Field Museum exhibit unveils ancient Chinese treasures

By Adam Schalke

Staff Reporter

Field Museum

The Field Museum has opened a new exhibit featuring the Terra-cotta soldiers of ancient China. Photo Credit: Adam Schalke

One of the benefits of going to school in Chicago is the ability to take advantage of the many great museums that the city has to offer.

While the new exhibit on Vincent Van Gogh’s bedrooms at the Art Institute has received a considerable amount of attention and good press, the Field Museum’s newest temporary exhibit offers Chicagoans a different kind of treat: the chance to come face-to-face with 2,000-year-old Chinese relics.

On March 4, the Field Museum unveiled its new exhibit on the Terracotta soldiers of ancient China.

The soldiers were organized over 2,200 years ago in order to watch over Emperor Qin Shi Huang, China’s first emperor and builder of the Great Wall, as he departed into the afterlife. The statues are unique in that while several thousand exist, each one has a different appearance, suggesting that they were modeled after real soldiers in early Chinese armies.

The statues are considered national treasures in China, and as such, their temporary acquisition to the Field Museum involved many negotiations and conditions.

Tom Skwerski, project manager at the Field Museum, was able to offer some details over what it was like to aquire the statues.

“The process started about five years ago when we approached the Chinese Artifact Bureau,” Skwerski said. “They have very strict rules regarding items like this. For example, they can only be featured in one exhibit in America at a time, and even then only ten statues may be featured in the exhibit, so we’re very happy to have them here. You’ll never get another chance to be this close to them.”

Several measures are in place to prevent statue causalities while in Field Museum’s custody. Skwerski ensured that the statues are in the best of hands.

“You know, that’s something we try hard not to think about,” he said. “These are cultural treasures, so we do everything we can to treat them properly. We have trained professionals who know what they’re doing.”

Skwerski said there are other projects that the Field currently has in store.

“Our exhibit on the ancient Greeks will close up in April. After that, National Geographic will have photography showcase in that space. The showcase will specifically feature women’s photography, and we’re excited to have that,” he said. “Also, we will also be having some in-house exhibitions from our collection. There’s going to be quite a bit there,  and we’re very happy to display that.”

The Terracotta soldiers will be at the Field Museum until Jan. 2017.

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