Hundreds of museums in Beijing stand testimony to evolution China as a colorful modern nation over the last 5,000 years.
A tour of these repositories showcasing history, culture, economy and politics of Chinese civilization is essential for one to understand triumphant rise of a nation through the ages. Beijing museums are perfect embodiment of nation building wisdom and efforts that underscore the greatness of people, their philosophy, achievement and inspiring rise to a modern, sophisticated nation.
Located at the heart of Beijing, the Palace Museum is a part of the former imperial palace, world famous as the Forbidden City. It houses historical and cultural symbols associated with 24 emperors who ruled from the palace between 1407 and 1911. The 9,000 halls and chambers of the palace spread over 723, 633 square meters, the palace is home to 1,807,558 artifacts, including 1,684,490 cultural relics of national importance. A majority of these artifacts, paintings, ceramics and treasures belong to the period when Ming and Qing dynasties ruled China.
The biggest museum in Beijing after the Forbidden City palace museum, it showcases Chinese history from the Yuanmou Man, believed to live 1.7 million years ago, to 1911 when the imperial history ended. Spread over 200,000 square meters, it houses 1,050,000 precious and rare items.
Many of these artifacts are only unique and not found anywhere in China, such as Simuwu Ding Shang bronzeware, the heaviest bronzeware discovered till now, gold-inlaid Qin bronze tiger, Tang Dynasty tri-colored glazed ceramics, Han jade burial suit and Liang painted stone relief.
Of all museums in Beijing, this is the most visited. It is dedicated to the history and cultural significance of the Great Wall of China. Situated at the Badaling Great Wall section, it has seven galleries showcasing wall construction during different dynasties, tools used, battles fought on the wall, historical and cultural sites along the wall and its structures and patterns. The Great Wall of Ming Dynasty, a special section, shows the contribution by the dynasty toward this gigantic structure. Visitors can also walk on a portion the wall constructed during the Ming era.
The Capital Museum is home to 200,000 cultural relics, such as ancient sculpture, ceramic ware, calligraphy, painting and Buddhist figures. Designed in traditional Chinese architectural style synthesized with modern glass work, it showcases the entire history of China. Its different sections are embedded with art and architecture that signify imperial China at various phases. The Bronze Exhibition Hall houses bronze artifacts collected over 3,000 years.
The Chinese pottery is well appreciated for its innovative material, design, color and utilitarianism. Ancient Pottery Museum in Beijing exhibits cultural relics belonging to five millenniums. Visitors can see painted Neolithic vessels, hundreds of Zhou, Qin and Han potteries and over 1,300 circular façade tiles of Qin and Han era. There are also more than 3,000 rare painted potteries collected from different parts of China.
Ancient Chinese Traditional Technology Exhibition gallery of this museum in Beijing highlights different object and technologies invented during the ancient Chinese civilization. It provides a glimpse of porcelain, paper making, and other contributions made by the ancient China in agriculture, asytronemy, horology, music, maritime field, engineering, warfare and metallurgy.
A special museum in Beijing’ on Suzhou Street, it is home to a vast collection of ancient art treasures. It has carved lacquer wares, ceramic wares, and enamels dating back to the Shang Dynasty. Many Zhou ivory and wood carvings and bronze artifacts are also part of the museum. Recommended if you like art museums in Beijing.
Located in Dongcheng District, the Zhi-Hua temple museum offers information about all other museums in the capital and the world. Its five courts have 1,500 relics spanning over 28 generations. The collection includes important Buddhist cultural relics, including a unique wheeling Tripitaka, fresco paintings and ancient musical instruments.
Showcasing growth of architecture in China, this museum is a must for anyone interested in ancient history. It has a big collection of tools, art and architecture technologies that led to emergence of China as glorious cultural symbol. Visitors can learn about history and style of architecture during various periods of Chinese history.
This is just a small selection of museums in Beijing. If you like museums and ancient Chinese history, one visit to Beijing is simply not enough.
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