Monday, October 15, 2007

Terror-cotta army activist

A man hopped over a security barrier in the British Museum on Monday and tied surgical masks to the faces of two Chinese terracotta warriors in a protest against China's pollution problems.

The exhibition of terracotta warriors, now at The British Museum, moves to Atlanta in fall 2008.

Security guards stopped the man and escorted him away after alarms sounded, museum spokeswoman Hannah Boulton said. The man was not arrested and the statues were not damaged, she said.

The exhibition, which took in more than $4 million just on advance sales of 200,000 tickets, includes 19 human figures selected from the more than 7,000 statues discovered in 1974 near the tomb of the ancient Chinese emperor Qin Shihuangdi.

The museum is using a novel approach in exhibiting the statues, allowing visitors to stand almost face to face with the commanding, life-size figures of warriors, archers, horses, musicians, acrobats and a charioteer.

"Part of the point of the exhibit is to see the statues up close," Boulton said.

The environmental protester stepped over a knee-high barrier to attach masks emblazoned with "CO2," the chemical notation for carbon dioxide. The movement near the statue triggered a silent alarm at the museum's security center, but not before the masks were put on two of the warriors.

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