Museums in Europe and Britain

While we endeavour to keep this information up to date we strongly advise you to check with the museum you wish to visit to make sure it is open before you leave.

To avoid copyright issues we have used our own photographs.




The British Museum
Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3DG
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7323 8000 (switchboard) +44 (0)20 7323 8299 (information desk)

Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 10.00–17.30
Thursday and Friday 10.00–20.30
including special exhibitions

The British Museum holds one of the worlds great collections of Chinese and Japanese ceramics. It is very well displayed and the labels are clear as well as very informative. The small side cases are especially useful as they show the bases of pieces. The British Museum have several displays contrasting similar looking objects from different cultures, for example there is a group of Celadon ware which includes an early Egyptian copy.


On the 23d of June 2009 the British Museum opened a new gallery in room 95 dedicated to the collection of Sir Percival David (1892-1964).

This renowned collection of Chinese porcelain and stoneware, formerly housed at 53 Gordon Square in a university museum administered by the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) part of the University of London, is now on view to a far wider public. Thanks to yet another generous donation from Sir Joseph Hotung the collection can be seen in its entirety in a wonderful new gallery. This collection, which is of world importance, includes such treasures as the pair of large blue and white Yuan (1279-1368) Porcelain vases known as The David Vases. Their long inscription includes a date corresponding to 1351, these vases are illustrated here. The most important pieces on display, or at least those considered to be so, some two hundred objects are given a large amount of space in the center of the gallery. The other 1,500 ceramic items are displayed in tall cabinets with a much closer grouping.

In my view the display is exemplary, the clear glass shelves let light through but also allow for the bases to be seen. The background colour, arrangement and lighting are all excellent. The display is not cluttered by large signs or lots of labels, there are labels but these are kept to a minimum. Details of the objects can easily be accessed by entering in the object number into a computer. This only takes a second and has lots of information. The holdings of the museum are currently being put on line.

Apart from the famous David vases their are many other highly important pieces in the collection, the earliest piece dates to the 3rd or 4th century. This large Western Jin dynasty basin is of Yue celadon and has at its center two incised fish, at the other end of the historical range of the collection are pieces from the late 19th as well as early 20th century. These are pieces which have now, with hindsight, been given later dates than they would have originally been given when the collection was formed. This, I think, helps to add to our view of scholarly collecting in the first half of the 20th century.

The bulk of the collection ranges from the 10th century to the 18th century with the Ming dynasty being particularly well represented.





V&A South Kensington
Cromwell Road
London SW7 2RL
+44 (0)20 7942 2000

The Victoria and Albert Museum has an extensive collection of ceramics, which includes the Salting Bequest. This is an oustanding collection of Kangxi blue and white, Famille Verte, with some Famille Noire and Blanc de Chine.

George Salting was a prolific collector in a number of areas. Museum Objects Chinese and Japanese ceramics and European art. By 1874 his collection had outgrown his residence in St. James’s Street, prompting him to lend items to the South Kensington Museum. After his death in 1909, the majority of this astonishing collection passed to the V&A, where it was shown in its own galleries.

The upper ceramic galleries will be reopened in phases during 2009.

The new galleries will include a major new introductory gallery, presenting a ‘world history’ of ceramics, highlighting connections between ceramics of different cultures and periods. Another major gallery will be devoted to ceramic materials and techniques, and there will be smaller rooms for temporary exhibitions, changing displays of international contemporary ceramics, and the study collections of 20th century pottery and architectural ceramics. This phase will open in September 2009.

The Museum possesses one of the most comprehensive and important collections of Chinese art dating from 3000 BC to the present time. Magnificent textiles, exquisite porcelain and elegant furniture are among the many treasures of the finest quality and design. The China (T T Tsui) Gallery is organised according to six main themes; living, eating and drinking, temple and worship, burial, ruling and collecting.

While the idea of placing objects in there cultural environment sounds appealing this display has never struck me as successful. One of the main problems is, I feel, that the themes look contrived. The object don’t seem to work well together in the unnatural displays that try to show how the original owners might have understood their possessions.





Ashmolean Museum
Beaumont Street
Oxford, UK
OX1 2PH Tel: (01865) 278000 Fax: (01865) 278018

The Ashmolean Museum re-opened to the public on 7 November 2009 following a £61 Million, four-year redevelopment. The 39 new galleries include Japan 1600-1850; Japan from 1850; China to AD 800; China from AD 800; The Khoan and Michael Sullivan Gallery of Chinese Painting; Art of the Islamic Middle East; India to AD 600; India from AD 800; Mughal India; Asian Crossroads; West meets East as well as galleries devoted to textiles, money, reading and writing and other cross-cultural themes that include Asian material. The collections as a whole outstrip those of any other university museum, and in this country are surpassed only by those of the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Mention should be made of the unique collection of early Chinese ceramics, due mainly to the Ingram gift; of the growing collection of contemporary Chinese painting, a field which few other museums in Europe have entered; of the Islamic pottery, mainly from the Barlow Collection, one of the most important outside the Islamic world; of the Chinese seals and ceramics from Eric North; and of the Islamic, Chinese and Japanese ceramics from Gerald Reitlinger. Reitlinger’s collection of Japanese export porcelain combined with purchases from the Story Fund (specific to Japan) give the Museum perhaps the most comprehensive collection in the West; the Ashmolean and the British Museum have the only large collections of Japanese paintings in Britain. The Indian (including Tibetan and South-east Asian) collections are also of international importance, and with the help of several benefactors have continued to grow around the nucleus of the old Indian Institute collection; the Museum’s earliest acquisition of a major Indian sculpture is recorded as long ago as 1686.




The Fitzwilliam Museum
Trumpington Street,
Cambridge CB2 1RB
Tel: 01223 332900
Fax: 01223 332923

The museum has a good but by no means large collection of oriental ceramics.

However the collection of Korean art in the Fitzwilliam Museum is one of the finest outside the Far East, containing rich holdings of early unglazed ceramics, celadon stonewares of the Koryo dynasty, punch’ong wares and porcelains of the Choson dynasty as well as items in glass, jade, bronze, brass, lacquer and wood.

“Korean celadon” is often referred to as “Goryeo celadon,” which is usually a pale green-blue in colour. The glaze was developed and refined during the 10th and 11th centuries during the Goryeo period, from which it derives its name. Korean celadon reached its zenith between the 12th and early 13th centuries, however, the Mongol invasions of Korea in the 13th century and persecution by the Joseon Dynasty government destroyed the craft. Korean Celadon ceramic inlaid designs, known as “Sanggam”, with the artisan engraving an inlaid design of a crane on the left and another artisan scraping off excess clay slip used to fill in the engravings on the right. Goryeo Celadon Kiln site, Gangjin. Traditional Korean celadon ware has distinctive decorative elements. The most distinctive are decorated by overlaying glaze on contrasting clay bodies. With inlaid designs, known as “Sanggam” in Korean, small pieces of coloured clay are inlaid in the base clay. Carved or slip-carved designs require layer of a different coloured clay adhered to the base clay of the piece. The layers are then carved away to reveal the varying colours. Modern potters, with modern materials and tools, have attempted to recreate Korean celadon techniques.



The Lady Lever Art Gallery Lady Lever Art Gallery
Port Sunlight Village
CH62 5EQ

TEL : 0151 478 4136

The Lady Lever Art Gallery was founded by William Hesketh Lever (1851-1925) and is dedicated to the memory of his wife Elizabeth. The gallery contains the best of his personal art collection.

A new permanent display open from 5 July 2008, the Lever the Collector gallery, introduces the man and his collections, telling the story of how he built the gallery.

The Lady Lever Art Gallery’s collection is very rich in Famille Noire porcelains, a prominent type of Qing dynasty (1644-1912) porcelain that featured significantly in many British art collections around the turn of the 20th century. Famille Noire can be described as a sub-group of Famille Verte, which developed from the wucai palette (meaning five-colour) in the late Ming dynasty. The terms were coined by the French Jesuit and ceramic collector Albert Jacquemart in 1873 and Famille Noire can generally be defined as bearing a copper-green lead-based enamel over an unfired coating of Chinese cobalt ‘émail sur biscuit’ (on the biscuit). During enamel firing, the two combined to give an intensely black effect, with a hint of green. The technique was first used at Jingdezhen in the mid-15th century, but it disappeared again until the late 17th century, when it was taken up once more at the court of the emperor Kangxi (1662-1722).

Owing to this circumstance, Famille Noire has generally been regarded as having been produced in the Kangxi era of the Qing dynasty and, in literature around the turn of the past century, even been mistaken as late Ming (1368-1644). Many pieces bear a Chenghua (1465-1487) reign mark on the base, for which reason many experts were mislead at the end of the 19th century into believing that these pieces originated from the Ming period.

This misconception gave impetus to the author’s further investigating this type of ware; during a personal examination of Famille Noire in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s collection that houses the Salting collection, it could be established that due to their general appearance most of the pieces inspected were unlikely to date to the Kangxi period, and that from today’s standards they could even be considered ‘fakes’ of the late 19th century, in imitation of Kangxi wares. The Lady Lever Art Gallery, in comparison, includes a considerable amount of similar pieces to the Salting Bequest and due to that apparent similarity, this essay will look into the question of collecting Famille Noire and the authenticity of the ‘black ground’ wares, as they were also referred to at the time.





Oriental Museum
Elvet Hill
Durham DH1 3TH
UK Tel: +44 191 334 5694 Fax: +44 191 334 5694

The Oriental Museum is the Asian art, antiquities, and material culture museum of the University of Durham.

It was opened in 1960, to house and display a remarkable collection, of world renown, covering the entire range of human history and prehistory from the civilisations and cultures of Asia, Egypt, Islamic North Africa, the Near, and Mid-East.







12 Bennett Street
Bath BA1 2QL
Telephone: +44 (0)1225 464640 – Fax: +44 (0)1225 461718


Just a few metres off The Circus in central Bath, is one of the most unique art collections in England – The Museum of East Asian Art. Situated in a restored Georgian house, the Museum attracts the interest of students, scholars and tourists, and also has a loyal local following. However there is no doubt that there are many who may be interested in such an exquisite collection, but are simply unaware that it is here. This unique museum houses a fine collection of ceramics, jades, bronzes and much more from China, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia.

Since opening to the public in April 1993, the Museum has gone from strength to strength, and has become one of the most extensive collections of East Asian art outside London. With a collection of almost 2,000 objects, ranging in date from c.5000 BC to the present day, the Museum offers its visitors a wonderful insight into the art and cultures of China, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia. With one of the most comprehensive jade collections in the UK and some of the finest bamboo carvings in Europe, the collection uncovers the finest achievements in East Asian craftsmanship.

The Museum’s excellent and wide ranging collection is interpreted in a lively and innovative manner. Particular attention is given to the Museum’s educational role, with special exhibitions, an active events programme and new publications designed to encourage a greater understanding of East Asian art and cultures.

Brian S. McElney, OBE.

An outline of his life as a collector and his founding of The Museum of East Asian Art in Bath.

Many of the objects in the Museum’s collection were collected over many years by Brian S. McElney OBE, who also founded the Museum. The history of Brian’s life, and the founding of the museum, is as interesting as the collection.

Brian was educated in the UK, attending school at Marlborough College where he studied classics and ancient history. He did not go to university but was articled to a solicitors’ practice in the City of London, where he qualified in 1956. He then joined the legal firm of Johnston Stokes & Master in Hong Kong, eventually rising to the position of Senior Partner in 1971. During 1973-74 he served as President of the Hong Kong Law Society. He remained as Senior Partner in his practice until 1983, continuing as a consultant until his retirement in 1992.

Brian’s career was rewarding on many levels. By mid-career he was a prominent member of Hong Kong society, noted for his fine and extensive collection of East Asian art treasures, principally Chinese. He started collecting in 1958, despite his modest means at that time. His collecting dominated his non-work interests, and he devoted many hours to achieving a scholarly understanding both of Chinese art, and of the history of one of the world’s finest and most profound artistic cultures. This knowledge enabled him to buy with discrimination.

After retiring in 1992, Brian was faced with the dilemma of what to do with his by now extensive collection of East Asian art. He explored the possibilities of loaning or donating his collection to an existing museum where he could continue his involvement with Chinese art, and pass on his knowledge and enthusiasm for it to the next generation. However his approaches were in vain. Then in late 1989, only a week or so after the last unsuccessful approach, some funds in his gift became available for donation to charity, specifically including museums. Brian decided to found the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath as an educational charity to which he would donate his collection.

A fine Georgian house was purchased at 12 Bennett Street, located close to The Circus, one of Bath ‘s most prominent architectural treasures, and not far from that other architectural masterpiece, the Royal Crescent. The house was converted in 1991 – 92 and fitted out as a Museum, with meticulous attention paid to the planning and finishing of the building. Since the founding of the Museum, Brian has worked there on a daily basis as the Honorary Keeper, with a series of excellent curators, a small dedicated team of managers, and an effective and focussed group of more senior Trustees.

Since its foundation the Museum has flourished and is now recognised as one of the three major UK Museums in its field.





Princessehof Leeuwarden, Grote Kerkstraat 11 .
8911 DZ Leeuwarden

T +31 (0)58 2 948 958 | F +31 (0)58 2 948 968

This museum has a very good collection of Chinese porcelain, much of which is blue and white export porcelain. This includes a large amount of swatow ware.

For more information about Oriental ceramics in Holland see : (in Dutch).







Museumeiland 1
9711 ME,
Tel : + 31 503 666 555
9711 ME Groningen

The Groninger Museum has a collection of Oriental Porcelain,  focusing on Export porcelain and  on East-West Interactions. It substantially enlarged in the time Cristiaan Jorg was it’s Curator (1978-2003). His aime was to put Oriental export porcelain in a wider context.
The exhibition is on permanent display, creating a valuable source of information.



Museumstraat 1
1071 XX Amsterdam
Telefoonnummer: +31 (0) 20 6747 000

At the moment, the collection comprises circa 1850 objects and is held in high international esteem. The collection has been on loan to the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam since 1952 and forms a substantial part of the museum’s department of Asian Art. In 2013 the new Asian Pavilion opened, in which parts of the collection are beautifully displayed. Acquisitions, donations and bequests still contribute to the collection. It consists of representative paintings, sculptures and works of art from important fields of art in Asia, especially in the field of old Chinese art, Japanese paintings and sculptures and works of art from Indonesia, but art from India, Thailand, Laos, Sri Lanka and Korea is also present. (source:





Östasiatiska Museet
Skeppsholmen, Box 16381, 103 27 Stockholm
Tel: 08-519 557 50/70 Fax: 08-519 557 55

The museum has collections from Asia, with special focus on China. Items from the collections now on display in China before China illustrate prehistoric China, The Middle Kingdom deals with China in the age of emperors and also on display China´s Book History, Buddhist and Indian sculptures and Chinese paintings.
The museum has two permanent exhibitions, one on Japan, and one on Korea.

The History of the Museum
The Swedish archaeologist Johan “Kina-Gunnar” Andersson found painted ceramics from Chinas agricultural Stone Age in China in the 1920s. These collections formed the basis for the museum, which was instituted by the Swedish Parliament in 1926. The museum grew rapidly and eventually held a wealth of informative material about Asian cultures. These collections were merged in 1959 with the National Museum of Fine Arts collections of Far Eastern and Indian arts and crafts. The new museum opened in1963 in Tyghuset, an old naval building on Skeppsholmen. The long yellow building, which dates from the late 1600s, was designed by Nicodemus Tessin.

Since 1999 the museum has been part of the National Museums of World Culture together with the Museum of Ethnography and the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm and the Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg. The four museums present and bring to life the worlds cultures and offer a perspective on our world.




National Museum of Asian Art Guimet,
6, place d’Iéna,
75116 Paris.

The Musée Guimet was the brain-child of Emile Guimet (1836-1918), a Lyons industrialist who devised the grand project of opening a museum devoted to the religions of Ancient Egypt, Classical Antiquity, and Asia. Guimet visited Egypt and Greece before travelling around the world in 1876, stopping off in Japan, China and India. In the course of his travels he acquired extensive collections of objects which he put on display in a museum opened in Lyon in 1879. These collections were subsequently transferred to a new museum which he had built in Paris and which was inaugurated ten years later, in 1889. During Emile Guimet’s own lifetime, the museum, while maintaining a section devoted to the religions of Ancient Egypt, increasingly focused on Asian civilizations.

This new policy followed on from a series of expeditions undertaken in various regions of the Far East. Already, Louis Delaporte’s journeys in Siam and Cambodia had provided a collection of Khmer art forming the nucleus of the Paris Musée Indochinois at the Trocadéro, founded in 1882. Towards the end of the 19th century, the Louvre Museum, for its part, opened a section within its Department of Objets d’art, devoted to the arts of Asia-principally China and Japan-and this was later to become the Department of Asian Arts. Guimet himself allocated less and less museum space to the religions of classical antiquity in order to exhibit the objects brought back from Korea by Charles Varat. In 1912, series of religious iconographies were withdrawn to make room for the collections of Tibetan art which Jacques Bacot had assembled in the course of his missions.

In 1927, the Musée Guimet came under the administrative control of the French Museums Directorate and obtained large collections of objects that had been brought back by major expeditions to Central Asia and China, such as those undertaken by Paul Pelliot or Edouard Chavannes. Furthermore, that same year, the museum received the original works that had previously been exhibited at the Trocadéro Musée Indochinois. And, throughout the 1920s and 1930s, its collections were enhanced by a wealth of material from the French Archaeological Delegation to Afghanistan. Joseph Hackin, at the time Director of the museum, and also in charge of the archaeological excavations in Afghanistan, supervised major alteration works, including the roofing over of the central courtyard in 1938 in order to display part of the Khmer collections. The Musée Guimet acquired a worldwide reputation for its rich collections of art from the Indianized civilizations of Asia.

From 1945, within the framework of a massive reorganization of the French national collections, the Musée Guimet transferred its Egyptian pieces to the Louvre and, in return, received the entire collection of objects from the latter museum’s Department of Asian Arts. Between then and 1953, under its Director, René Grousset (Grousset having taken over from Joseph Hackin who had died in 1941 along with his wife in the service of the Free French forces) it became one of the world’s leading museums of Asian art. Grousset was succeeded by Philippe Stern, an international authority on Ancient Cambodian art who, between 1954 and 1965, attached particular importance to developing the museum’s research activities, its library and, above all, its photographic archives. In 1965 Stern’s successor, Jeannine Auboyer, was particularly responsible for enhancing the collections in the field of Classical Indian art. In the late 1960s, she supervised major alteration works designed to provide the museum with office space and new reserves, while in the following decade a new museum layout was introduced, stripped of the original neo-classical decor. In 1986, Jean-François Jarrige, a specialist in the ancient archeology of the Indian subcontinent, took over from the Sinologist Vadime Elisseeff who, after a long period in charge of the Musée Cernuschi, had been appointed Director at the Guimet in 1982. In 1991, in an annexe at N°19, Avenue Iéna, the museum, in collaboration with the sadly regretted Bernard Frank, Professor of Japanese Civilization at the Collège de France, opened the Buddhist Pantheon, displaying a selection of the original collections brought back from Japan by Emile Guimet. The opening of the Pantheon was part of a general policy- following on the footsteps of illustrious predecessors-aimed at consolidating the museum’s eminent role as a learned institution, and at the same time catering to an increasing public interest in Asian civilizations. The museum collections have been enriched thanks to financial backing from the French Museum Acquisition Funds, and to the generosity of the many donors whose names are acknowledged in the main entrance hall. The aim of the vast museum renovation program-adopted in 1993, initiated in 1996, and recently completed-was to ensure that the institution founded by Emile Guimet can increasingly assert itself, in line with the efforts of all its previous Directors and curatorial staff, as a major centre, in the heart of Europe, for the appreciation and knowledge of Asian civilizations, while also taking into consideration the latest developments in museum science and new requirements for the display and conservation of artworks. The architects, Henri and Bruno Gaudin, together with the team of curators, have given priority to natural lighting and to the creation of open perspectives within the 5500m2 of permanent gallery space. This new, pleasantly open and serene layout will make it easier for visitors to grasp the inter-relationships and differences between the various artistic traditions of Asia. With this major program of works, the Musée Guimet has now completed the total reorganization of its interior spaces since it was founded over a century ago.






7 avenue Velasquez,
Arrondissement 8eme,

The Musée Cernuschi is the second most important collection of Far Eastern art in Paris, after the Guimet Museum. It houses the fifth largest collection of Chinese art in Europe.

Cernuschi’s smoking room has been designed as a memorial to him. Of the 12,400 objects in the Cernuschi Museum collection, 900 are on permanent display. The main body of this collection are Chinese bronzes from the 15th century B.C.-3rd century A.D.

The Musée Cernuschi is most noted for its Chinese art which ranges from the Neolithic age to the 13th century. Included are Han dynasty tomb figures, called mingqi, from the Northern Wei dynasty and the Sui dynasty.

The Tang and Song dynasties are represented with pottery and a rare collection of gilded bronze objects represent the Liao dynasty, 907-1125. Of exceptional note in the Cernuschi Museum collection is an 11th century B.C. bronze wine vessel known as, “The Tigress”, and the bronze Jian basin, the largest outside of China. Also from the 8th century Tang dynasty are the polychrome terracotta figures of female musicians on horseback. A collection of restored Chinese calligraphy is also exhibited. The Japanese collection comprises over 3,500 objects of bronze and ceramic and paintings. The Cernuschi Museum collection of “mingqi” is quite impressive. Mangqi were intended to provide earthly comforts and were entombed with the corpse. They are in the representation of musicians and dancers, cooks and guardians and birds and horses. These and the bas-relief sculptures from the walls of tombs offer a look into Chinese life of 2,000 years ago

Enrico Cernuschi (1821-1896) was a financier and philanthropist from Milan. He fought in 1848 to liberate Milan from Austrian rule and then served on the Roman National Assembly for one year. When the new government collapsed in 1850 he escaped to France where he became wealthy working in commerce and banking. He aided in founding the Banque de Paris, changed his name to Henri and became a French citizen in 1870. In 1871, he was arrested and released for being a prominent sympathizer of the Communards. After witnessing the bloody uprising, he traveled to the Orient in September, 1871. He began to collect Oriental art, buying in mass quantities. Upon returning to Paris eighteen months later, he built a mansion near Parc Monceau for himself and to house his collection of nearly 5,000 works of art, including a bronze Japanese Buddha sculpture that was so large, the largest in Western Europe, that the house was basically designed around it. It is the 18th century Amida Buddha. It was necessary to cut the 4.4 meters high sculpture into several pieces for its transport to Paris from Tokyo.

Upon his death, Cernuschi had the house and the art collection, which he continued to add to throughout his life, bequeathed to the city of Paris. It was inaugurated as a public museum on October 26, 1898.





103 Andrássy út, Budapest H-1062
Telephone 0036-1-456-5110
Fax: 0036-1-218-7257

Ferenc Hopp purchased his items of Oriental art in the course of his round-the-world trips and at World Exhibitions. As his interest in Oriental arts deepened, he sought advice from the young art historian Zoltán Felvinczi Takács – later to become the first director of the museum – concerning the development of his collection. Since the foundation of the Museum, the collection has been increased through donations, purchase and transference of Oriental collections of other museums. Currently the collection consists of approximately 20,000 objects and incorporates a body of Chinese, Japanese, Indian, South-East Asian, Nepalese, Tibetan, Mongolian, Korean and Near-Eastern pieces. Our principle field of collection – geographically speaking – consists of South, South-East and East Asia; as far as themes are concerned, it includes the traditional fine arts, applied arts and, occasionally, the folk art of these areas. Due to increased interest in contemporary Oriental arts, we intend to broaden the range of our field of collection in this direction.

Currently the Chinese Collection of the Museum consists of more than 8,000 items; we are in possession of pieces of furniture, ceramics, bronzes, carvings of precious stones, paintings, statues and lacquerware. Ferenc Hopp visited China in the course of his first (1882-83), third (1903) and fifth (1913-14) round-the-world trips. Being an optician, he was intensely interested in carvings of precious stones; he also had an eye for collecting cloisonné, ceramics and sculpture.