Best Of 2019

Best Show of Artistic Force: "Terracotta Army: Legacy of the First Emperor of China" at the Cincinnati Art Museum

The Cincinnati Art Museum’s Terracotta Army: Legacy of the First Emperor of China drew in nearly 140,000 visitors — 91, 628 of which came specifically for the blockbuster ticketed exhibition. Those numbers mark Terracotta Army as the highest-attended exhibit to date since 1982’s Treasures From the Tower of London. It was such a hit that Listermann Brewing Company even dedicated a New England Red IPA to the exhibition, dubbed as an ale “fit for a warrior.” Ten life-size terracotta warrior figures from China’s Pre-Qin era (770-221 BC) and throughout the Qin dynasty filled the space, alongside more than 120 objects ranging from leather armor and gold works to ceramics, jade ornaments and more. The Terracotta Army — some 8,000 figures of humans and horses — is roughly 2,200 years old and is an amazing yet haunting human accomplishment. China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, ordered them to be created to guard a vast mausoleum complex where his tomb would be, near the city of Xi’an in Shaanxi Province. It’s estimated some 720,000 workers spent almost 50 years building an underground city/necropolis. All the objects in this show came from Chinese art museums and archaeological institutes, and the exhibition’s overall aim was to chart “the birth of the Qin empire and cultural diversity in ancient China; the First Emperor and unified China; and the quest for immortality,” said the CAM. Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Drive, Mount Adams, cincinnatiartmuseum.org.