Don’t miss the newest exhibit at the Bern Historical Museum. Appearing for the first time in Switzerland, Qin – The Eternal Emperor and His Terracotta Warriors runs until November 17th, 2013.
Qín Shǐ Huáng (259 BC – 210 BC) was the first emperor of unified China (221 BC – 210 BC). He is famous for introducing economic, social, and political reforms to unified China; for ordering construction of defensive walls, precursors to the Great Wall of China; and for a massive mausoleum complex containing thousands of unique life-size terracotta statues.
The mausoleum and its terracotta statues were discovered by accident in 1974 when Chinese peasants digging a well happened upon terracotta fragments. Further exploration of the area uncovered numerous pits containing elaborately detailed warriors, horses, chariots, animals, and more. Symbolically, these figures accompanied the emperor into the afterlife. The site was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and has been called the most significant archeological discovery of the 20th century and the 8th Wonder of the Ancient World.
In addition to the terracotta warriors, the exhibition includes information related to the rise of the Qin principality and to the Emperor’s legacy for the Chinese Empire. Artifacts such as bronze figurines, terracotta roof tiles, bronze knives and hinges, jade dragons, bronze tureens and lamps, bronze bells, iron shackles, clay farm animals, and more are on display.
I went to the exhibition shortly after its opening and I highly recommend it as part of a day trip to Bern or if you are passing through the city. My husband and I took advantage of the audio guides (CHF 5, available at the information desk) and spent about two hours walking through and seeing all that was on display. Afterward, we spent another couple of hours exploring the museum’s permanent exhibitions, including the Albert Einstein Museum (second floor).
Getting there: Bern is less than two hours from Geneva, by car or by train. The Bern Historical Museum is located at Helvetiaplatz 5, approximately a ten-minute walk or five-minute bus ride (bus 19, direction Elfenau, to Helvetiaplatz) from the train station. If you are arriving by car, click here for a list of Bern’s public parking areas.
Admission times and cost: The museum is open every day of the week except Monday, from 09:00-18:00. The exhibition runs until November 17th, 2013.
Tickets to the Qin exhibition cover entry fee to the entire historical museum as well as the Albert Einstein museum; a ticket costs 28 CHF for adults, 14 CHF for children aged 6 to 16, and children under the age of 6 are admitted for free. Families with children may want to purchase a family ticket, which costs 60 CHF and covers admission for two adults and two children.
Tickets can be purchased at the museum or online. The museum limits the number of people who can enter the exhibit each hour; you may want to reserve a time slot in advance. Once admitted, you can view the exhibition as long as you like and tour the rest of the museum after that. Click here for the online ticket shop.
- Bern Historical Museum and the Qin exhibition: click here.
- Gallery of images of the excavation site available at UNESCO: click here.
- Detailed description of the mausoleum complex available at UNESCO: click here.
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