Terracotta Warriors and Spy: The Secret World of Espionage at Discovery Times Square
In 1974, farmers near Xi'an, China made an amazing discovery when they unearthed a terracotta army created by the first Emperor Qin Shi Huang over 2,000 years earlier. Cited by some as the Eighth Wonder of the World, the terracotta army includes more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots and 600 horses. Now you can see some of these incredible statues at Discovery Times Square.
We recently went to see Terracotta Warriors: Defenders of China's First Emperor and learned about the ambitious Emperor Qin, who united all of China for the first time and created the immobile army to protect him after death. While at the museum, we also explored its other exhibit, Spy: The Secret World of Espionage. They are great companion pieces: One reveals secrets of the ancient world while the other shares secrets of the modern age.
Terracotta Warriors: Defenders of China's First Emperor
In addition to several terracotta warriors and horses, the extensive exhibit includes more than 200 artifacts from the Qin Dynasty as well as the periods before and after. You'll see items from everyday life that give a window into China at the time.
Videos explain how Emperor Qin united China, the discovery of the terracotta army and the militaristic exploits of the man who commissioned them. The videos are easy to follow and help give historical context to the artifacts on view.
The exhibit is not especially kid-friendly, but my son was able to recite back the key points of historical significance after walking through it, and the videos are a great way to expose children to the sophistication and beauty of an ancient culture.
Spy: The Secret World of Espionage
Across the hall is the much more kid-friendly Spy, which reveals the tales and tricks of the trade of undercover agents. Learn the stories of real double agents, how they made their drop-offs and the tools they used.
Kids will like the laser maze and other interactive elements. The rest of the exhibit is best interpreted by an adult to highlight the fun stuff, like microfilms hidden in walnuts and carrier pigeons decked out with surveillance cameras.
Exhibits at Discovery Time Square can be pricey. Adult are $27 per exhibit while children ages 4-12 are $19.50. But with two interesting installations on display, a combo ticket ($42 for adults, $33.50 for kids) is a better value. PBS members can get discounts and it's worth Googling to see if other deals are available.
Discovery Times Square is located at 226 West 44th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. Check the website for hours and more information. Terracotta Warriors: Defenders of China's First Emperor is on view through Sunday, August 26. Spy: The Secret World of Espionage runs through Sunday, March 31, 2013.
Find out about other cool exhibits for kids in our Museum Guide.