The Terracotta Army at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities

Parts of the world-famous Terracotta Army from China were on display at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm throughout 2011. This exhibition was unique as it was displayed in a quite spectacular setting, also included more recent finds from similar burial sites. More than 350 000 visitors saw the exhibition.

MTAB handled the entire transport project, from Xian to Stockholm and back to China. The project also involved packing all the artefacts.

Around 75 cubic metres of unique cultural treasures, weighing about 12 tonnes in total, were transported to Sweden; first by road on four art trucks to Beijing, then by air to Copenhagen, and then on two art trucks with trailers to Stockholm.

This is a fantastic but complex large-scale project, comments Jennifer Nilsson, MTAB’s project manager in the Art & Exhibitions department, who managed the whole shipping process. Our partner in China, shipping company Huaxie, transported the complete exhibition from Xian to Beijing on four trucks, where it was then loaded onto a cargo plane bound for Copenhagen.

In Copenhagen, the artefacts were met by a courier from the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, who stayed with them all the way to Stockholm. The exhibition obtained its customs clearance at MTAB’s security warehouse and from there it was driven to the museum over a few days.

– Some of the crates were too big to get into the caverns, so we erected a large marquee outside the entrance for the truck to drive into where we unpacked the artefacts, says Jennifer. We also built a temporary 63-metre transport route, so that the crates would not vibrate as we manoeuvred them into place.

Curators from the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities were in Xian, and the 316 artefacts displayed were inspected and packed over seven days of intensive work.

Most of the artefacts were packed in separate inner crates which were then placed in larger transport crates. The huge terracotta soldiers and the bronze carriage and four horses took three days to pack. The figures were first placed upright in the specially adapted crates, before being laid down and sealed up with a lid.

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