Clockwork Treasures From China’s Forbidden City Come To London

Clockwork Treasures From China’s Forbidden City Come To London

Turn back the hands of time and discover a beautiful exhibition of mechanical marvels at the Science Museum in London.

In the 1700s, China’s emperors collected ornate clockwork automata known as zimingzhong and cherished them for their intricate design and technical innovation. Now, the new exhibition Zimingzhong: Clockwork Treasures from China’s Forbidden City showcases a unique collection of 23 stunning pieces, on display in the UK together for the first time.  

This exhibition invites you to discover the outward beauty and inner workings of these centuries-old timepieces, and their historic role in early cultural exchanges between Britain and China. Translating as ‘bells that ring themselves’, zimingzhong were far more than just clocks; they combined timekeeping with sophisticated musical technology and flamboyant aesthetics. Their designs incorporated motifs such as cranes and lotus flowers, expressing British perceptions of a Chinese culture that held powerful sway over the country’s imagination.  

These opulent treasures will transport you to the Chinese trading port of Guangzhou and the home of the emperors in the Forbidden City for a fascinating insight into early trade between Britain and China, and a tour de force of artistry and spectacle. 

The Science Museum are asking you to pay what you can to visit Zimingzhong, with a minimum ticket price of £1. Income from this exhibition will help support our future exhibitions and activities. 

For more information please visit the Science Museum

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