Thursday, January 03, 2013

The Terracotta Warriors

Joshua and I have twice visited the Terracotta Warriors Exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute Of Arts.

Over Thanksgiving Weekend, Josh and I took an out-of-town guest to the exhibition.

Nine days before Christmas, we visited the exhibition a second time. On that day, a Sunday afternoon, everyone in my family attended the exhibition, including my niece and nephew—as well as Josh’s sister, staying with us over her school break.

The exhibition no doubt is an important one, but the rewards are historic more than artistic. The Terracotta Warriors were created during the Qin Dynasty (221 B.C. to 206 B.C.), and the artistic quality of the items on display pales when compared to sculpture and artisanal work being produced at the same time in Egypt, Greece and Rome.

My niece and nephew were not too young to enjoy the exhibition. The exhibition engaged them, and held their attentions. We all tried to point out things of particular interest to children in order to make the exhibition fun for them.

The Terracotta Warriors first visited the U.S. in 1985, when the Minneapolis Institute Of Arts presented five of the warriors in a small exhibition. My parents took my brothers and me to that earlier exhibition, and I still remember that day—I was four years old, it was my first visit to MIA, and I was very excited (although somehow I had it in my mind that the warriors were going to be mobile, and put on some sort of live demonstration).

The current exhibition is many times the size of the 1985 exhibition. It is the scale of the current exhibition that most impresses, not the creativity of the individual artists that manufactured the artifacts, most of which are not remarkable—or beautiful—in the least.

In my estimation, ticket prices for the exhibition are too high ($16.00 per head for school-age children seems unreasonable to me, as does $20.00 per head for adults). High prices have not kept the public away; to the contrary, MIA has had to expand significantly its exhibition hours in order to accommodate public demand.

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