The Shiren (literally, intelligentsia) refers to all intellectuals in ancient China or the elite group in ancient Chinese society. They learned knowledge, spread culture, participated in state politics, and created and passed on traditional Chinese culture. This exhibition focuses on the intelligentsia and through the NMC cultural heritage collection like bronzes, gold and silver ware, porcelain, jade ware, stone carving, furniture, calligraphy and painting and books in ancient China, demonstrates how the intellectuals, under the influence of the traditional Confucian culture, embraced the ultimate ideal of “cultivating the moral self, regulating the family, maintaining the state rightly and making all peaceful”, as well as their intellectual pursuit and artistic aesthetics reflected in their endeavor to improve themselves and enhance their taste. These refined interests embody the lifestyle, aesthetics and philosophy of the intelligentsia and they are closely related to traditional Chinese culture.

This exhibition features 90 pieces/sets of cultural heritage which fall into three parts, namely, “With the World in Mind: The Intellectuals’ Pursuit”, “Refined Taste: The Intellectuals’ Spiritual World” and “Artistic Conception and Expression: The Intellectuals’ Artistic Aesthetics” displayed in five exhibition halls.