Procession of camels with lone figure leading in shadow against orange sky

26 September 2024 – 23 February 2025

Daily: 10.00–17.00 (Fridays 20.30)
See full opening hours

Room 30

The Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery
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Save at least 20% with our early bird offer. Adults from £17. See ticket information

Camel caravans crossing desert dunes, merchants trading silks and spices at bazaars – these are the images that come to mind when we think of the Silk Roads. But the reality goes far beyond this.

Rather than a single trade route from East to West, the Silk Roads were made up of overlapping networks linking communities across Asia, Africa and Europe, from Japan to Britain, and from Scandinavia to Madagascar. This major exhibition unravels how the journeys of people, objects and ideas that formed the Silk Roads shaped cultures and histories. 

The Silk Roads were in use for millennia, but this visually stunning show focuses on a defining period in their history, from about AD 500 to 1000. This time witnessed significant leaps in connectivity and the rise of universal religions that linked communities across continents.

Working with 29 national and international partners to present objects from many regions and cultures alongside those from the British Museum collection, the exhibition offers a unique chance to see objects from the length and breadth of the Silk Roads. From Indian garnets found in Suffolk to Iranian glass unearthed in Japan, they reveal the astonishing reach of these networks. 

Highlight objects from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan that have never been seen in the UK before also underpin the importance of Central Asia to this continent-spanning story. 

You'll meet figures whose stories are entwined with the Silk Roads, including Willibald, an ingenious balsam smuggler from England, and a legendary Chinese princess who shared the secrets of silk farming with her new kingdom. Crossing deserts, mountains, rivers and seas, the Silk Roads tell a story of connection between cultures and continents, centuries before the formation of the globalised world we know today. 

Ticket information


Members don't need to book to visit Silk Roads. Please show your Membership card to gain entry. If you're visiting before your Membership card arrives, bring your Membership purchase confirmation email to the Membership Desk in the Great Court on the day of your visit. We'll then issue a temporary card to access your on-site benefits.

Please see our Visiting as a Member page for more information on visiting the Museum.



Exhibition supporters

Supported by

The Huo Family Foundation logo

The Huo Family Foundation's mission is to support education, communities and the pursuit of knowledge. Through its donations, the Foundation hopes to improve the prospects of individuals, and to support the work of organisations seeking to ensure a safe and successful future for all society.

Additional supporters 

James Bartos 
The Ruddock Foundation for the Arts

With further support from 

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea, Unicorn Publishing Group, International Foundation for Arts and Culture Japan, Rodolphe Olard and Susan Sinclair, and The Huang Yao Foundation.

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