GENTLY does it. This two-tonne, three metre tall sculpture now graces the entrance to the Ashmolean Museum as a permanent memorial to one of the world’s foremost experts on Chinese art.

The sculpture by Taiwanese artist Ju Ming has been given to the museum in memory of Professor Michael Sullivan, who died in September aged 96.

It is called Taichi Arch and was installed on the museum’s Beaumont Street forecourt by crane yesterday morning.

Dr Shelagh Vainker, curator of Chinese art at the museum, said: “The Ashmolean is profoundly grateful to the Juming Education and Culture Foundation for enabling the museum to commemorate Michael Sullivan with this important sculpture.

“Michael was a pioneer in the study of Chinese art and his contributions to the field continued until the end of his life.

“We hope that Ju Ming’s sculpture, displayed on the museum forecourt, will encourage more people to enjoy and study contemporary Chinese art – the subject to which Michael dedicated his life.”

Prof Sullivan, a world authority on 20th century and contemporary Chinese art, began collecting Chinese painting in the 1940s with his wife Khoan.

The collection has become one of the most important in the West, and many works have been displayed at the Ashmolean in the Khoan and Michael Sullivan Gallery, which opened in 2000.

The Ashmolean had to reinforce the forecourt floor to make sure it could take the weight of the sculpture.

It will sit opposite Henry Moore’s Three Piece Reclining Figure which is on temporary loan from the Henry Moore Foundation.

Prof Sullivan was an admirer of Ju Ming’s work and described it as “rooted in the ‘yin’ and ‘yang’ dualism in Chinese culture”.

He said: “Ju Ming has found, in his own cultural heritage, a natural source for the creation of a formal language that is both contemporary and Chinese.”

Ju Ming was born in Taiwan in 1938 and his work has been exhibited across Asia, Europe, and the US.

In 2005, Prof Sullivan donated a Taichi figure by the sculptor to his Oxford college, St Catherine’s.

Ashmolean spokeswoman Claire Parris declined to reveal the value of the sculpture for security reasons.