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This September the British Museum will stage a major exhibition, which will explore a pivotal 50 year period that transformed China during the rule of the Ming dynasty.

The exhibition will include rare loans of some of the finest objects ever made in China, shedding light on this important part of world history that is little known in Europe.

This 50 year period, described as the golden age in China’s history, was a time of extraordinary engagement with the world and of fascinating cultural diversity. There was unprecedented contact with the world beyond the Ming Empire, through embassies, an assertive military policy, and court-sponsored maritime expeditions that, combined with China’s internal transformation, led to a flourishing of creativity from what was, at the time, the only global superpower.

Ming: 50 years that changed China is the first exhibition to explore the great social and cultural changes in China that established Beijing as a capital city and the building of the Forbidden City - still the national emblem on coins and military uniforms today. The show will feature a range of spectacular objects – including exquisite porcelain, gold, jewellery, furniture, paintings, sculptures and textiles – from museums across China and the rest of the world. Many of them have only very recently been discovered and have never been seen outside China.

The exhibition is part of a wider research project in association with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) which seeks to provide a new perspective on a period of crucial importance to China and the wider world, a history that for the first time fully integrates the evidence of material culture with the enormous textual record.

Ming: 50 years that changed China
18 September 2014 – 5 January 2015
The Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery
British Museum, London