Exhibition | Archive

The Magic of Characters

3000 Years of Chinese Calligraphy

23 April 2016 to 17 July 2016

The exhibition ‘The Magic of Characters’ presents, for the first time, works of Chinese calligraphic art from three millennia, examining the many planes of significance of calligraphy and writing generally. It extends from the earliest witnesses, dating from the 3rd millennium BCE, all the way to contemporary art. lly.

Works in the exhibition

More than 100 works from acclaimed lenders, e.g. the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the Museum Rietberg in Zürich and the M+ Sigg Collection in Hong Kong are presented in six thematic groups. The items tell of messages to Heaven and of demonstrations of pwer on earth, of religious devotion and individual expressive power. Mythical heroes and historical personalities, virtuous officials and rebellious eccentrics all appear – as calligraphers. The talk is of bibulous poets’ meetings and poetical natural experiences, and also of the role of calligraphy for moral cultivation and political propaganda in China. 

The exhibition brings out the unique importance still enjoyed to this day by Chinese writing culture in China. But it also gives an idea of its current reception in the West and in the international art scene.

The show was conceived by the Museum Rietberg in Zürich. With small changes and including a few important works from our museum’s own holdings, it can be seen in Cologne from 23 April.

In co-operation with

With the kind support of

Cultural partner


Global Merchandise more


Silver for Tsingtao 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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