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Terracotta Warriors exhibition doubles visitor target

Te Papa’s exhibition Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality has attracted twice as many visitors as originally planned, with 198,021 people having seen the exhibition since it opened on 15 December.

Before it opened, the museum had estimated 97,000 people would see the exhibition.

The exhibition closed on Easter Monday 22 April, with its final few days being among its busiest.

Te Papa spokesperson Kate Camp said the exhibition’s last tickets had sold out on Easter Saturday.

“Tickets were just flying out the door as people scrambled to secure their spot,” says Ms Camp.

“We have been blown away by the interest in the exhibition, and impressed by the level of detail that visitors have been delving into.”

“They’ve been really taking their time, reading the labels, listening to the audio guide, and buying the catalogue to read up at home.”

Ms Camp said that visitor feedback had centred on the same themes.

“People have told us they appreciate seeing the warriors alongside all the other treasures, and getting an insight into Chinese culture and history.”

“The other common theme is the privilege of being so close to history, close enough to pore over every intricate detail,” Ms Camp says.

Dr Rebecca Rice, curator of Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality, says the exhibition has achieved everything the museum hoped for.

“We wanted to offer an immersive and intimate experience – a chance to see the terracotta warriors up close in breath-taking detail,” says Dr Rice.

“It was important to us that the exhibition give an insight into Chinese history and culture, and we can see from our audience response that it has done just that.”

Dr Rice said that working closely with colleagues from China had been a personal highlight.

“We are honoured to be able to host these treasures in Aotearoa, and we are so grateful for the support and expertise of our Chinese colleagues,” Dr Rice says.

The exhibition objects travelled more than 10,000 kilometres to Te Papa from Xi’ian. They will now take a shorter journey to Melbourne, where they will be shown at the National Gallery of Victoria from 24 May to 13 October, before returning home.

The $2.6 million exhibition had been made possible by support from the government’s Major Events Development Fund, and Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau, Shaanxi History Museum (Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Center), and Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum.

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