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Our China gallery is named after the distinguished politician and diplomat the Rt. Hon. Malcolm MacDonald. 

MacDonald was a passionate collector of Chinese ceramics. His dream was to create a chronological display of the development of this most Chinese of art forms. The backbone of this gallery is dedicated to fulfilling this dream.  During 2023 this gallery underwent major refurbishment and in March 2024 the gallery reopened with new displays showcasing China’s long and fascinating ceramic heritage from the Neolithic period to the present day.

Chinese ceramics are renowned for their aesthetic qualities, exquisite artisanship, and innovative experimentation with clay, pigment, glazes and firing techniques. Ceramics in China did not exist in isolation from other technological and artistic areas, but rather benefited from and contributed to the processes, techniques and designs developed for other materials. To reflect this, the ceramic display is complemented by relevant examples of coinage, jade, metalwork and lacquer from our outstanding collection. 

The gallery also includes highlights from across the rest of our incredible Chinese collections, ranging from ancient bronze weapons to magnificent jades carved for the emperor and his court.  

Don’t miss:

  • Tang dynasty tomb models of farmyard animals 
  • Ancient bronze and jade items created for burial with the dead
  • A Song dynasty Dingware wedding bowl decorated with mandarin ducks  
  • A porcelain shufu cup - one of the earliest types of ceramic created on the orders of the imperial court 
  • The astronomical clock - the only other example of this type of clock is in the Forbidden City in Beijing 
  • Jades carved in the imperial workshops of the Qing dynasty.

museum display cases filled with Chinese objects