Silver for Tsingtao

Chinese export silver from the Hildebrand collection

4 May 2023 until 29 October 2023

From the estate of Bitburg engineer Heinrich Hildebrand (1855-1925), the Museum is presenting exceptional works created by Chinese silversmiths during the late Qing Dynasty (from 1644 to 1911). Between 1891 and 1908, Hildebrand constructed railway lines, factories and buildings all over China. He acquired scores of artworks for his residence in Tsingtao (today known as Qingdao), capital of the territory Kiaochow, which was leased by Imperial China to the German Empire. Most of his silverware was produced in the hinterland of Tsingtao around 1900.

Silver has been used to make works of art and jewellery in China since the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (771 – 256 B.C.). During the Tang Dynasty (617 – 906), the economic and cultural exchange facilitated by the Silk Roads led to a change in artistic metalwork techniques, whereby repoussé was used to adorn hammered silver. In the 18th century, the first silver objects were produced in Canton (today known as Guangzhou) for export to Europe. After the First Opium War (1839-1842), export silver emerged as a major industry in the treaty ports. The beautifully crafted silver of the late 19th century ultimately combines European receptacle forms with embellishment typical of Chinese gold and silversmith work, including motifs of plants and birds, mythological figures, theatre and literary scenes.

Ernst Boerschmann (1873 - 1949), <em>The Pao-Cheng silver shop in Shanghai, </em>albumen print, China, 1906/09, P 338, Slg. Adolf und Frieda Fischer

Besides "Tsingtao silver", the exhibition showcases export silver from the ports in the south of China and traditional Chinese silver works of art from the Museum's own collection. Painted cityscapes of Tsingtao, photographs and documents from the turn of the century add the final flourish to the presentation.

Mit Dank an unsere Leihgeber


Das Konfuzius-Institut an der Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn ist ein gemeinsames Projekt der Universität Bonn mit der Beijing Language and Culture University und dem Centre for Language Education and Cooperation in Peking. Es versteht sich als Brücke zwischen Deutschland und China und möchte zur Pflege der chinesischen Kultur und Sprache in Deutschland sowie zur Stärkung des deutsch-chinesischen Verständnisses beitragen. Dafür bietet es ein breit angelegtes, stetig wachsendes Programm aus Sprachkursen, kulturellen Aktivitäten und Vorträgen rund um das Reich der Mitte an.

Mit Unterstützung

Fördererkreis des Museums für Ostasiatische Kunst Köln

Orientstiftung zur Förderung der Ostasiatischen Kunst



Global Merchandise more


Naoya Hatakeyama. YOKOHAMA SOUVENIRS more

Opening times

Tuesday to Sunday
11am – 5pm
Every first Thursday in the month
11am – 10pm 

Closed Mondays; open on All Saints' Day
Museum is closed on December 24th, Christmas Day (25 Dec), New Year's Eve (31 Dec) and New Year's Day (1 Jan). Museum is opend on Easter Monday, Whit Monday, German Unity Day and December 26.

Admission prices

€ 7,50 /reduced € 4,50

from 20 June
€ 9,50 /reduced € 5,50

KölnTag on the first Thursday of the month (except public holidays): free admission to the Museum for all Cologne residents.

How to get here

Public transport: Tram routes 1 and 7 and bus route 142, alight at ‘Universitätsstrasse’
There is a car park at the museum


The museum is barrier-free. Disabled toilet available.

Museum für
Ostasiatische Kunst Köln
Universitätsstrasse 100
D 50674 Köln
Ticket office +49.221.221-28617
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