The first gallery of the Cyrus Tang Hall of China, with a map table in the foreground and a large circle of video screens above the exhibition display cases.

Cyrus Tang Hall of China

Category: Exhibition

Exhibition Summary


Included with Basic admission

Targeted age groups

All ages


Anchor: #these-350-objects-are-just-the-beginning

These 350 objects are just the beginning.

Walk between a pair of stone lions and enter a collection of rare textiles, rubbings, bronzes, and ceramics. These objects come together to tell the story of China, a land of diverse societies unified by shared traditions and a history of dynamic change. Now included in basic admission

This Qing (ching) Dynasty silk robe features the two-horned, five-clawed dragon, traditionally used only by the emperor to acknowledge his special status as a link between human and supernatural worlds.

Worn during theatrical performances, this 19th-century mask depicts Yang Ren, who, after being blinded, used a spell to create new eyes—resulting in a pair of tiny arms growing from his eye sockets with all-seeing eyes in the palms of the tiny hands.

Take a closer look at objects that tell stories of China’s complex history, diverse cultures, and changing role in the world.

Exhibition highlights:

  • An animated map of dynastic China’s shifting political borders
  • The Qingming scroll, a 27-foot-long painting of Chinese life along a prosperous river city and its outskirts
  • A shadow puppet performance of the epic tale Journey to the West
  • Recovered cargo from a trading vessel that sank in the Java Sea during the 12th or 13th century
  • Spirit stones in the Sue Ling Gin Garden

Unwind in the Sue Ling Gin Garden, a peaceful space filled with eight spirit stones donated by the municipal government of Suzhou.

There is no one China.

People often think of China as monolithic, characterized by one land, one people, one culture. But there is no one China. In reality, China encompasses diverse landscapes, ethnicities, and social and lived experiences that cut across both space and time.

The curators of the Cyrus Tang Hall of China assembled this collection to explore the intricacies of this vast country and its evolution over time: pottery and stone tools from Neolithic villages, bronze vessels and weapons dating back to the centuries of the warring states, painted scrolls depicting ordinary life, and goods traded along the Silk Road.

Each object on display plays a role in telling China’s story. Together, these items examine the paradox of constant change and firm continuity that define more than 10,000 years of rich cultural history, from the Neolithic period to the present.

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