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Behind the scenes at the Fitzwilliam: Tomb Treasures of Han China

Jade suit
Jade suit

On a Monday afternoon in September, when the Museum was closed to visitors, 30 local donors to St John's enjoyed lunch in College before making their way to the Fitzwilliam for an exclusive guided tour of its exhibition The Search for Immortality: Tomb Treasures of Han China.  There they were greeted by Dr James Lin (2008), the exhibiton's Curator, and Dr Vicky Avery (1988), Keeper of Applied Arts.


‘What people rarely realise about exhibitions is that they are full of drama behind the scenes.’ Dr James Lin

 Dr Lin lead the group into the 2000 year-old tombs of Han Dynasty China, revealing an epic story of lust for power both in life and death, through over 350 treasures in jade, gold, silver, bronze and earthenware.  It was fascinating to hear how tombs were furnished in an attempt to recreate life in death, including servants who were expected to be buried with their masters. Dr Avery took us on a different route, explaining some of the decisions keepers make about where and how to display objects within the Museum's galleries, so that they are able to tell their stories in the best way. It was a wonderful privilege to have a keeper's insight into how exhibitions are put together, illustrated by the beautiful sculptures and paintings of Galleries I and V.

 'Do not miss this show' The New York Times

 This event was a way of saying thank you to some of our donors as we reach the successful conclusion of our recent fundraising campaign.  St John's is extremely grateful to Vicky and James for their time and to The Fitzwilliam Museum for enabling our visit.  If you have not managed to see the exhibition yet we urge you to go - it finishes on November 11th.

 Photos of the event are available here.