Adult Programs

Fragile Cargo: An Evening of Art, Drama, & Valour

Fragile Cargo: An Evening of Art, Drama, & Valour
Monday, May 6, 2024, 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm 

The captivating, mysterious world of China’s Forbidden City unfolds in a special evening presentation with Chen Shen, ROM’s Co-Chief Curator of Art and Culture, and best-selling author and former BBC correspondent, Adam Brookes.

Learn more about the former imperial palace complex of the Emperor of China as Shen presents a unique, closer look at some of the remarkable treasures highlighted in the past special exhibition, Forbidden City: Inside the Court of China’s Emperors. Beautiful objects are coming out of the vaults for this evening, including Imperial porcelain from the Ming and Qing Dynasties, objects of polished jade, and more.

Author of several espionage thrillers, including his best-selling first novel Night Heron, Adam Brookes worked for many years as a foreign correspondent for the BBC in China, Indonesia and elsewhere. Tonight, he shares stories from his recent non-fiction book, Fragile Cargo: The World War II Race to Save the Treasures of China’s Forbidden City, about the courageous and determined curators of the 1930s who safeguarded the Forbidden City’s precious objects ahead of the invading Japanese army.

A reception of wine and other refreshments follows the presentation.


Dr. Chen Shen

Dr. Chen Shen, Co-Chief Curator, Art and Culture and Senior Curator, China. Credit: © ROM.

Dr. Chen Shen joined ROM in 1997 as the inaugural Bishop White Curator of Eastern Asian Archaeology, and today holds Museum appointments as both Senior Curator of Chinese Art and Culture, and ROM Vice President of Art and Culture. As an archaeologist and scholar, he views gallery and collection objects as communications tools to bridge the past into the future and is responsible for an art and culture collection of nearly one million objects. More specifically, he is responsible for managing and researching over 41,000 Chinese objects held in collections at ROM. He has curated many exhibitions, including two of the Museum’s best attended exhibitions: The Warrior Emperor and China’s Terracotta Army (2010), and Forbidden City: Inside the Court of China’s Emperors (2014).

Adam Brookes

Adam Brookes, author of “Fragile Cargo: The World War II Race to Save the Treasures of China’s Forbidden City”. Credit: © Sam Kittner.

Adam Brookes is a best-selling author whose writing draws on extensive experience as a journalist and foreign correspondent in China and elsewhere. Born in Canada and raised in the U.K., he studied Chinese at SOAS University of London. He has over two and a half decades of experience in journalism, mainly for BBC News as a correspondent in Jakarta, Iraq, Afghanistan, Beijing, and Washington. Currently living in the United States, his trilogy of spy thrillers featuring the crusading journalist hero, Philip Mangan, has been internationally acclaimed.


The Bishop White Committee: Friends of East Asia

With its mandate to help support the Museum’s East Asia Section: China, Japan, and Korea, the Bishop White Committee: Friends of East Asia is an associate committee of the Department of Museum Volunteers at ROM. Founded in 1960, the committee promotes learning about the East Asia Section through newsletters, special programs, symposia and annual fundraisers, in-gallery activations, as well as fund endowments to support acquisitions.


Proceeds of the Bishop White Committee programs will benefit the East Asian section (China, Japan, Korea) of the Royal Ontario Museum.

Bishop White Committee is organized by the ROM's Department of Museum Volunteers to provide support for the Museum. 

Reserve Tickets

All sales are final. Order is non-refundable

Date & Time

Event date: Monday, May 6, 2024 6:30pm EDT

Registration starts: Wednesday, April 3, 2024 10:00am EDT


Royal Ontario Museum
ROM Eaton Theatre, Level 1B

Public: $35.00
ROM Members: $30.00

Queen's Park Entrance ►