Recently, the Queen opened a refurbished gallery at the famous British Museum, in one of her first pubic engagements after her private estate was caught up in the Paradise Papers leak. She toured the renovated and restored Sir Joseph Hotung Gallery of China and South Asia. Sir Richard Lambert, who is the Chairman of the British Museum trustees, said that the first phase of reopening of the place was a great moment for the museum and the “culmination of a lot of work.”
“It is a really important gallery for us because we get millions of visitors here every year from China and Asia – and it is beautiful,” he said. When asked about the experience about showing the Queen around, he said that it was “wonderful” and added that she was “really interested in it.”
“She loved the Silk Road display with the horse, and she spent a lot of time in the Ming display. What was thrilling was, she was really engaged and interested in the objects,” Sir Richard Lambert said.
It was around twenty-five years ago when the Queen unveiled the original gallery. The Queen, who is a horse lover and a keen rider, marveled at the Tang Dynasty horse statues in the British Museum. After the revamping of the gallery, it features new displays that tell the stories of China and South Asian countries of Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, and India from 5000 BC to today.
Sir Joseph Hotung donated money to help cover the renovation costs and said that the reopening of the gallery was “very exciting, very magnificent.” He also showed the Jade gallery to the Queen that houses his personal collection, which is now on loan to the British museum.
“That was a real treat, I didn’t think she would be that interested and spend that much time there. But she did, she walked along much further than I thought she would,” Sir Joseph said. He added that the Queen was really impressed by a Neolithic jade pommel, which is a decorative item placed on a sword handle and that she asked many questions about the items displayed in the gallery.
The Queen also cut ribbon on a marble oculus placed in the middle of the gallery. The oculus carries a dedication to highlight the reopening date of the gallery.