Ming Dynasty treasures coming to Scotland

The treasures are set to appear at the National Museum next year. Picture: TSPL
The treasures are set to appear at the National Museum next year. Picture: TSPL
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TREASURES charting the history of China’s long-running Ming dynasty are to go on display in Scotland next summer under a new cultural agreement between the two countries.

The National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh will be the only UK venue to play host to the rare works of art and artefacts, which are going out on loan from Nanjing’s museum, one of the most famous in China.

Among the precious items going on display will be the era’s iconic blue and white porcelain, jewellery, musical instruments, ornaments, calligraphy, paintings and silk textiles.

The exhibition will look at all aspects of Ming life, from the daily life of ordinary subjects to the luxurious and rare artefacts of the Royal Court, as well as the cultural, economic and social achievements of the 276-year-long dynasty.

Paintings, map, portraits

Highlights include work by leading Ming painters, including Shen Zhou (1427-1509), Tang Ying (1470-1524), Qiu Ying (c.1494-1552), Wen Zhengming (1470-1559), and Dong Qichang (1555-1636), a map of the world created by the first Westerner to serve at the Ming court, one of the earliest paintings of the Forbidden City, and life-size portraits showing the faces of the men at the head of the dynasty’s well-educated elite.

The new international touring show, which has been put together by Edinburgh-based Nomad Exhibitions and Nanjing Museum, has just opened at the 15th century De Nieuwe Kerk building in Amsterdam.

Its run in Edinburgh, from June-October next year, was announced in Beijing during the on-going visit to China by First Minister Alex Salmond.


Dr Gordon Rintoul, director of National Museums Scotland, described the collection of treasures due to go on display in Edinburgh next year as “remarkable.”

He said: “The Ming empire represented a great period of cultural and social transformation but also produced truly beautiful works of art. Visitors to the exhibition will experience both a visual feast and a compelling story.

“We are delighted to collaborate with the Nanjing Museum, one of the most prestigious in China, in hosting the only UK showing of this exhibition.”

Mr Salmond signed a “cultural memorandum of understanding” with China’s culture minister Cai Wu, at a ceremony in Beijing almost two years ago.

It committed the governments in Beijing and Edinburgh to support “greater exchange and collaboration” across the arts, creative industries, heritage and its national collections.


Mr Salmond said: “As a result of the commitments by both the Scottish and Chinese governments we have seen a greater number of collaborations across the arts, creative industries, heritage and national collections allowing the people of both our countries to share some unique experiences.

“I am delighted that this partnership will see this exciting and special Ming exhibition brought to Edinburgh next summer, with National Museums Scotland and the Nanjing museum in China working together to exhibit the wonder of the Ming dynasty – an extraordinary period in Chinese history, renowned for its social, economic and cultural influence on shaping China’s present-day national identity.

“This is a fantastic example of a cultural exchange that is helping us enhance the mutual understanding between our countries, creating an atmosphere of respect, trust and celebration.”