Celestial Empire introduction

The Celestial Empire exhibition presents a unique selection of works from the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). The selection of books, maps and other documents produced under the dynasty represent a journey through different levels of society. They are used as markers in a tour of life in China over the last centuries of imperial rule.


Complete Map of Everlasting Unity of the Great Qing was designed to impress. Spread over 8 scrolls, this early 19th century work shows the extent of the Qing dynasty at the height of its strength. It was based on a map made in 1767 by Huang Qianren (1694-1771), which also drew on earlier models of Chinese cartography. Administrative regions throughout China are carefully labelled. Two winding lines dominate the centre of the map: the Yellow River in the north and the Yangzi River in the south. The Great Wall can be seen twisting its way inland from the sea in the northeast.

The Qing dynasty ruled China for nearly 270 years, lasting from 1644 until 1911; it was the last of China's imperial dynasties. 

Explore the exhibition

The exhibition is divided into 5 themes. Explore a snapshot of these themes:

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