Journey back in time starts halfway around the globe

By Jan Hatchette, VMFA Deputy Director for Communications

No one can ever prepare you for the hustle and bustle of China—even when there was a lot of preparation to get us here.

We landed today in Beijing, then rushed to make our connection to Xi’an, an exciting city balancing its legacy as one of the Four Ancient Great Capitals with its role as a modern technological powerhouse. Even after all that travel, we’re still at the start of our journey back in history, with the centerpiece being a visit to the burial pits where archaeologists continue to discover more about the Terracotta Army.

But even though we’ve moved the clock ahead 12 hours from what it is in Richmond, there’s no time to worry about jet lag. We’re now in the heart of the Shaanxi Province, ready for five action-packed days visiting museums, archaeological sites, and other cultural agencies to gain more insight into Terracotta Army: Legacy of the First Emperor of China, open through March 11.

Joining our museum leadership team of Director Alex Nyerges, Li Jian, who co-curated Terracotta Army and me, are several reporters and photographers. We invited them along to understand more about the works in the exhibition, find out what goes into curating an exhibition, with the added complexity of working with partners overseas, and to learn why visitors should consider this a “can’t miss” opportunity in Virginia.

Since arriving at VMFA in April, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to learn more about art, and this journey will provide a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to pull off an exhibition of this magnitude. I’m coming to this industry from higher education, and have been fortunate enough to learn about museum operations from my VMFA colleagues. During our trip to China, I am thrilled to have an opportunity to learn more from industry experts at leading international institutions.

This week I am looking forward to exploring another culture and learning more about the history, customs and traditions of both China and East Asia.

Like most of my travel companions this week, I expect the highlights to be our tour of the burial pits that house the Terracotta Army and a walk on the Great Wall. After all, the Great Wall alone is an iconic “must see” in the world, and international leaders have made the trek to the mausoleum site. In preparing for the trip, I’ve been reading more about our destinations and the Qin culture, but seeing these places, art and relics in their home country will be phenomenal and meanignful.

And even when you’re halfway around the world, it’s nice to find one of the greatest comforts of all: WiFi to help share these great art and travel experiences with you.

For additional information and exhibition tickets: Terracotta Army: Legacy of the First Emperor of China.