Governor McAuliffe Announces State Employees to Receive Free Admission to Terracotta Army: Legacy of the First Emperor of China at the VMFA

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced Commonwealth of Virginia employees can receive free admission to Terracotta Army: Legacy of the First Emperor of China, a highly anticipated exhibition that opens at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) on November 18, 2017. Ten life-size terracotta figures, including warriors and a cavalry horse, will be featured in the exhibition, whichwill be on display until March 11, 2018. Admission to VMFA’s permanent collection is free every day of the year; some special exhibitions, such as Terracotta Army, require a fee.

“The VMFA, a cultural treasure in our commonwealth, is unveiling an outstanding exhibition in Terracotta Army that is a must see for everyone,” said Governor McAuliffe. “This special benefit ensures that state employees have an opportunity to see this story of the First Emperor’s profound influence on Chinese history, art, and culture. This is also important for their families, as ancient Chinese history is incorporated throughout the state’s educational curriculum.”

Terracotta Army will showcase 130 works of art, drawn from the collections of 14 art museums and archaeological institutes across the Shaanxi Province in China. The exhibition will tell how the Qin state developed into an empire under Ying Zheng (259–210 BC), who unified China and declared himself Qin Shihuang, or the First Emperor of Qin. His quest for immortality began soon after he became the king of Qin in 246 BC.

The terracotta figures to be on view belong to an underground army of life-size sculptures created by order of the First Emperor to accompany him to the afterlife. The terracotta army was not discovered until 1974, when farmers found pottery shards and bronze arrows while digging a well. Subsequent excavations led to the astonishing discovery of an estimated 8,000 terracotta figures buried in three pits east of the First Emperor’s tomb mound.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century – which we are bringing to the heart of the Commonwealth,” said Alex Nyerges, VMFA Director. “As a state institution, we welcome our peers from across Virginia to take advantage of free admission and come see this significant exhibition, particularly as they plan their upcoming holiday travel.”

To claim their free tickets (one per employee), state employees must present their employee identification cards at VMFA’s Visitor Services desk. Their family members will get half off exhibition tickets, or $10 for adults; $8 for seniors; and $5 for children. Regular ticket prices for Terracotta Army are $20 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $10 for college students and children ages 7–17. Tickets are free for VMFA members and children ages 6 and younger. Visitors can reserve tickets by phone at (804) 340-1405.

As part of this special offer, state employees can also present their ID cards for discounts on dining and shopping at VMFA: a 20 percent discount on purchases in Best Café and the VMFA Shop, and a 10 percent discount at Amuse restaurant until March 11, 2018. The discount applies to their family members.

An interactive exhibition in VMFA’s Memorial Foundation for Children Teaching Gallery, Dig It! complements the Terracotta Army exhibition and offers visitors of all ages the opportunity to explore the field of archaeology through the use of augmented reality. Focusing on discovery, excavation, and lab study, Dig It! encourages visitors to uncover objects in VMFA’s permanent collection through a virtual dig and learn more about their date, function, and how archaeology contributes to the study of objects from ancient China. Dig It! is free and open to the public until July 2018.

About Terracotta Army: Legacy of the First Emperor of China

Presented in three sections, Terracotta Army: Legacy of the First Emperor of China will explore the rise of the First Emperor, the history of the Qin state, and the emperor’s quest for immortality.The exhibition will feature arms and armor, horse and chariot fittings, ritual bronze vessels, works in gold and silver, jade ornaments, precious jewelry, ceramics, and architectural components that were excavated from Emperor Qin Shihuang’s mausoleum, as well as aristocratic, commoner, and nomadic tombs. Dating from the Zhou dynasty (1046–256 BC) through the Qin dynasty (221–206 BC), these objects reflect the complex history, myths, and burial customs of ancient China.

The exhibition is organized by VMFA and the Cincinnati Art Museum, in partnership with Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau, Shaanxi History Museum (Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Center), and Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum of the People’s Republic of China. The exhibition is curated by Li Jian, VMFA’s E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Curator of East Asian Art, and Hou-mei Sung, Curator of Asian Art at the Cincinnati Art Museum, where the exhibition will travel after it closes at VMFA.

Sponsorship for Terracotta Army: Legacy of the First Emperor of China

Terracotta Army: Legacy of the First Emperor of China is presented by Altria Group and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation. Sponsors include the Anne Carter and Walter R. Robins, Jr. Foundation, Virginia H. Spratley Charitable Fund II, Dr. Donald S. and Beejay Brown Endowment, The Community Foundation Serving Richmond & Central Virginia, Mrs. Frances Massey Dulaney, Jeanann Gray Dunlap Foundation, Dr. and Mrs. Steven E. Epstein, Frank Qiu and Ting Xu of Evergreen Enterprises, Norfolk Southern Corporation, Richard S. Reynolds Foundation, Stauer, Mr. and Mrs. Fred T. Tattersall, Ellen Bayard Weedon Foundation, and YHB | CPAs & Consultants. The exhibition program at VMFA is supported by the Julia Louise Reynolds Fund.

Dig It! is made possible by generous support from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, The Community Foundation Serving Richmond & Central Virginia, and The Jeanann Gray Dunlap Foundation. Additional support is provided by Maggie Georgiadis, Margaret and Thomas Mackell, and Jack and Mary Spain.

About the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia, is one of the largest comprehensive art museums in the United States. VMFA, which opened in 1936, is a state agency and privately endowed educational institution. Its purpose is to collect, preserve, exhibit, and interpret art, and to encourage the study of the arts. Through the Office of Statewide Partnerships program, the museum offers curated exhibitions, arts-related audiovisual programs, symposia, lectures, conferences, and workshops by visual and performing artists. In addition to presenting a wide array of special exhibitions, the museum provides visitors with the opportunity to experience a global collection of art that spans more than 6,000 years. VMFA’s permanent holdings encompass nearly 40,000 artworks, including the largest public collection of Fabergé outside of Russia, the finest collection of Art Nouveau outside of Paris, and one of the nation’s finest collections of American art. VMFA is also home to important collections of Chinese art, English silver and French Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, British sporting, and modern and contemporary art, as well as renowned South Asian, Himalayan, and African art. In May 2010, VMFA opened its doors to the public after a transformative expansion, the largest in its 80-year history. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is the only art museum in the United States open 365 days a year with free general admission. For additional information, telephone (804) 340-1400 or visit