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The terracotta warriors have arrived at Te Papa!

After travelling more than 10,000 kilometres from Xi’an, China, the 2,300-year-old terracotta warriors have arrived at Te Papa.


Image sourced from Te Papa. Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality

The imperial icons were welcomed on 22 November with a small informal blessing as each crate of precious cargo was brought into the national museum. A formal private pōwhiri and blessing will take place ahead of the public opening. 

The unmissable exhibition Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality 秦始皇兵马俑:永恒的守卫 opens on 15 December this year and runs through summer until 22 April 2019.

Until then, a team of Te Papa installers, mount makers, conservators, exhibition designers, curators, and technicians, alongside four colleagues from China, will be installing the ancient treasures in their new temporary home.

The exhibition features eight life-sized warriors and two horses. Also on show are over 160 exquisite treasures from imperial tombs in and around China’s ancient capital, Xi’an.

Te Papa’s Head of Art, Charlotte Davy, says: ‘We’re honoured to be the kaitiaki for these incredible works of art and to enable New Zealanders to come close to this ancient history.

‘I’m blown away by the epic stories behind these ancient items. It’s awe-inspiring to think that they were created before the reign of the Egyptian pharaoh Cleopatra, the construction of the Colosseum in Rome, and the major eruption of Taupō in New Zealand.’

Terracotta Warriors is the first international exhibition to be held in Te Papa’s new art gallery, Toi Art, which opened to critical acclaim earlier this year.

Te Papa has commissioned a New Zealand artist to create an artwork in response to the visit of the ancient terracotta warriors from Xi’an.

Local artist Kerry Ann Lee has created the immersive installation Return to Skyland.

‘It was important to us to have a contemporary response by a Chinese New Zealander, and to support the production of new artworks by New Zealand’s best artists,’ says Ms Davy.

Kerry Ann Lee’s work is displayed within the exhibition space of Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality


Updated on 3rd December 2018