By John Olusegun 4:35 pm PST

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art will present an exhibition dedicated to Anyang, the capital city of China’s Shang dynasty. The collection, which will be on view in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, is one in a series curated to celebrate the National Museum of Asian Art’s centennial anniversary. Anyang will be on view from February 25, 2023, to April 28, 2024.

The exhibition is the first of its scale about Anyang to be displayed in the United States, and its importance is rooted in the capital’s history. Anyang is the source of the earliest surviving Chinese written records and is primarily regarded as the birthplace of Chinese archaeology. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There are over 200 artifacts on display, including jade ornaments, bells and chariot fittings, ceremonial weapons, and other items that showcase Anyang’s history from over 3000 years ago. Notable items include ritual wine vessels with distinct designs, like carvings of dragons and real animals. The exhibition will showcase objects exclusively from the museum’s collection.

Expectations for the exhibition are high considering the expertise of the team working on it. Keith Wilson, Curator of Chinese Art, is the Anyang exhibition organizer and is assisted by research curator Kyle Steinke. Wilson has worked on several exhibitions related to China over the years.

The public can view the early development of Chinese writing during the exhibition. The exhibition will also showcase ritual practices, tomb spaces and objects designed for the afterlife, weaponry innovations, and designs and artistry development.

In addition, the exhibition will feature digital explorations that allow visitors to revisit the discovery of the ancient city as it happened. They can also experience life in the Shang dynasty as it was 3000 years ago. The larger part of the digital experience was created with the award-winning production studio, UNIT9.

Chinese visitors and lovers of Chinese arts and history are expected to appreciate the effort that went into curating an exhibition dedicated to one of the most significant periods in Chinese history. The collection is also fascinating for those interested in Sino-American relations. Shortly after archaeological works started in Anyang, the National Museum of Asian Art forged a relationship with Li Chi,  a Freer Gallery of Art staff member and leader of the excavations in Anyang.

The museum supported Li Chi’s work, commencing a relationship premised on advancing scientific knowledge and marking a significant development in Sino-American relations. Independent sponsors, foundations, and friends of the museum support the Anyang exhibition for the museum’s centennial celebration.

The Anyang exhibition will quickly become one of the stop points for art lovers in Washington. The National Museum of Asian Art also has one of the world’s most impressive collections of Chinese works. Finally, the Smithsonian Channel developed a feature-length program dedicated to Fu Hao, one of the women covered in early Anyang inscriptions.