Empresses of China's Forbidden City

On view August 18, 2018 to February 10, 2019

This exhibition is the first to explore the role of empresses in shaping China’s last dynasty- the Qing dynasty - from 1644 to 1912. Nearly 200 spectacular objects from the Palace Museum tell the little-known stories of how imperial women influenced court politics, art and religion.

Timed to mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of U.S.-China diplomatic relations, Empresses of China's Forbidden City is organized by the Peabody Essex Museum; the Smithsonian's Freer|Sackler, Washington, D.C.; and the Palace Museum, Beijing. 

Share your impressions with us on social media using #PEMempresses

Empresses of China’s Forbidden City is organized by the Peabody Essex Museum; Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; and the Palace Museum, Beijing.

Exhibition support provided by:

Liu Dan




Carolyn and Peter S. Lynch and the Lynch Foundation
Shirley Z. Johnson and Charles Rumph
The Richard C. von Hess Foundation




American Friends of the Shanghai Museum

Blakemore Foundation; Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo; Quan Zhou and Dr. Xiaohua Zhang; Furthermore: a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund; Skinner, Inc.; Ellen Bayard Weedon Foundation; Sandra Urie and Frank Herron; Robert N. Shapiro

Mr. & Mrs. James B. Hawkes for support of seminar programming around the exhibition.

We also recognize the generosity of the East India Marine Associates of the Peabody Essex Museum.

Media partner: The Boston Globe

Peabody Essex Museum is proud to be a partner of the MassFashion Collaborative.

Blog \\ Connected

2018 exhibitions examine women and power

When I think about “Powerful Women,” I think about people who have challenged gender norms and limitations.