‘Eternal Offerings’ exhibit has much to offer

Minneapolis Institutes of Art exhibit amazes viewers

Dahlia Herman


At the Minneapolis Institute of Art a spectacular exhibit has been turning heads globally. Touring from March 4–May 21, “Eternal Offerings: Chinese Ritual Bronzes” is an immersive experience exploring the ritual bronze objects only recently introduced to the public of ancient China. 

The exhibit takes place within seven rooms, each with its own distinctive theme: “Setting the scene,” “An Immersive World,” “Temple,” “Ritual,” “Banquet,” “Rules of Property” and “Coming Full Circle.” Each room shows the bronze ritual object related to its category. When first entering the exhibit, I was amazed by the digitally-immersive experience. In the first room, the lights shining down gave the room an otherworldly or underwater-like feeling. On the walls were poems from various Chinese authors, all surrounding a mirror in the center of the room, to represent each of our own memories of the past. 

Strips of curtain lead into the second room where animals creep and crawl throughout the displays. Each animal, like the bird and tiger, held elaborate detail. Signs informed me that the intricate animals represented the gods or spirits the ancient Chinese dynasties worshiped. My personal favorite was a bird-like figure with a head of hair similar to a Greek helmet. The lines and details on the body and especially face really amazed me and showed the skill of artisans back in the 1200s. 

In the third room, kitchen-like containers such as pots and jars are displayed but what caught my eye the most in this room was the backdrop, giving a temple-like setting. A lit-up, image-projected cloth portrays a tiered temple and a table featuring goblets and various foods. An interesting element was the play on light. The front of the room was a daytime setting, where the farther end of the room was darker, bringing you into night.

I found the fourth room to be my favorite. Walking in, there is a huge altar with a screen of smoke floating up toward projected clouds. Surrounding the basin are ritual offerings, and in the background, a painting of mountains and scenery native to China. I loved the interactive element in this design — it really puts you in the headspace of what it would have been like hundreds of years ago.

Walking through the rest of the rooms, particularly-striking vessels stood out to me, such as a celestial horse shown in the sixth room. There was a magnificent sculpture centered in the room with lights and a background all pointing toward the horse as the center of attention. The backdrop portrayed four shadowing lights and figures of people on stone. In room seven, another bronze object looked like a shield, but was actually described as a mirror. The elaborate metal work was in the form of a mandala and had repeating patterns all the way to the center.

A unique aspect about this exhibit is the juxtaposition of ancient artifacts — crafted in a time where there was no electricity or modern resources available — displayed among the modern technologies such as projectors and light shows that created a multimedia experience. These artifacts were so well-preserved because the Chinese throughout the centuries kept them generation to generation in the temples themselves, and are now finally introducing them through tours for the world to see.

Overall, this exhibit really fascinated me. I loved the ancient mixed with modern, and the immersive elements really integrated me into the setting. This exhibit is closing after this weekend, so definitely make sure to go check it out — all students under 18 admit for free. 

“Eternal Offerings: Chinese Ritual Bronzes:” ★★★★★