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Press release

Groninger Museum showcases five millennia of Asian ceramics in new exhibition

Wednesday 15 May 2024
Dragons & Demons, Anders collection
Dragons & Demons, Anders collection

Groninger Museum showcases five millennia of Asian ceramics in new exhibition

This Chinese Year of the Dragon, the Groninger Museum invites visitors on a journey through 5,000 years of Asian ceramics. A new exhibition illuminates a range of aspects of ceramics culture in China and Japan through objects dating from 3000 BCE to the early 20th century. Dragons & Demons: 5,000 Years of Asian Ceramics from the Anders Collection showcases a unique selection of pieces from the collection of George Anders and Netty Bücher. Each item tells us something about everyday life, habits and rituals, and the decorative urge in Asian cultures. Visitors will discover 400 exquisite objects collected by Anders and Bücher. Dragons & Demons is on currently on display at the Groninger Museum.

A range of themes

The exhibition tells a variety of stories, organised by a diverse range of themes. Some objects are grouped according to function – tea drinking, incense burning, ancestor worship. Animals feature heavily – real ones such as lions, chickens and fish and mythical creatures like the Chinese dragon and the phoenix. The exhibition explores spiritual and philosophical subjects, such as the role and significance of East Asian deities in society and musings on the cosmos. Chinese and Japanese tales and legends, such as the story of the Eight Immortals, also play an important part in the show. Dragons & Demons includes several unique and extremely rare objects.

A tangible experience

Visitors to the exhibition will have a unique opportunity to touch ceramic fragments from the 17th and 18th centuries. Feeling the material will enable them to better understand and appreciate the texture, form and delicacy of the objects and their decorative techniques. This added dimension makes Dragons & Demons a richer sensory experience.

To demonstrate the continuing relevance of ceramics in everyday life, public tea ceremonies will be held. Participants will consume tea in the traditional Chinese manner. For an optimum experience, they will use the same type of teaware that can be seen in the exhibition.

The Anders family collection

The Luxembourger George Anders and the Swiss Netty Bücher, longtime residents of the village of Haren, were enthusiastic collectors of Chinese and Japanese ceramics. Anders was a professor of human genetics and Bücher was a biologist. Together they acquired in-depth knowledge by visiting museums around the world and building an extensive library. Anders and Bücher collected more than 1,400 Asian ceramic objects, from extremely early pieces to contemporary ones, by buying at auction. They founded the Stichting voor Aziatische Kunst en Kunstnijverheid (Asian Fine and Applied Art Foundation), which with the Groninger Museum has looked after their collection since their deaths and regularly acquires new pieces to add to it. The Anders collection will eventually be merged with he museum’s to form the largest and most varied collection in the Netherlands.

This exhibition is curated by professor Christiaan Jörg, a former curator at the museum, and junior curator of Asian ceramics Lecong Zhou.

Dragons & Demons: 5,000 Years of Asian Ceramics from the Anders Collection is on display now until January 4th, 2026 in the Starck Pavilion.

Note the editor, not for publication

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Click here for images from Dragons & Demons.