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The First Emperor: China's Terracotta Army, The British Museum

This highly acclaimed exhibition, in the unique setting of the Round Reading Room, was strong on spectacle and drama, yet balanced by thoughtful interpretation and rigorously scholarly content. The film that extended around nearly half the circumference of the Reading Room was a striking and memorable aid to the visitor’s understanding. Visitors were delighted that they had been taken on a narrative journey, and that the experience unfolded like a 3-dimensional story.

Of our many challenges in creating this exhibition, one was to make best use of this beautiful and unusual space, used to hold exhibitions for the first time in its long history. Metaphor masterplanned the both conversion of the Grade I Listed Reading Room into an exhibition space and the visitor experience through the Great Court, in consultation with the British Museum, English Heritage and conservation architects PMT.

This exhibition was seen by 850,000 visitors, 37% of

whom had not previously visited the Museum.

Andrew Lambirth from The Spectator said 'there are...from time to time, properly scholarly yet accessible exhibitions which touch a chord with the public. The First Emperor is that rare item... the exhibition design has been brilliantly conceived and immaculately executed.'

Service: Exhibition Design

Client: The British Museum

Cost: £800,000

Realisation: 2007

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