Fascinating cultural discoveries unfold inside these superb museums
National Museum of China
One of the country’s premier museums, visitors to this space will find impressive permanent collections and rotating international exhibitions. The Ancient China exhibit is of particular note, filled with astonishing pieces dating from prehistoric China to the Qing Dynasty. Other exhibitions to visit include the Ancient Chinese Money collection and the Bronze Art and Buddhist Sculpture galleries. Don’t forget to bring your passport, as it’s required for entry here.
Capital Museum of China
A modern and diverse museum, this space plays host to an eclectic collection of artifacts related to Beijing’s past and present. The building itself is an architectural showpiece, with elements of both classic and modern Chinese beauty. Inside, exhibitions offer insight into history, cultural heritage, and archeology, including regular exhibits dedicated to themes such as urban construction and old Beijing folk customs, showcasing a total of more than 5,600 pieces. Art exhibits on calligraphy, paintings, jade, and statues represent other highlights.
National Art Museum of China
This renovated museum features 14 huge halls dedicated to permanent exhibits of Chinese artwork and frequent shows by international artists. Works of art range from Chinese paintings to prints, sculptures, caricature, watercolors, and oil paintings. The museum also has impressive folk art collections, with exhibits of kites, pottery, folk costumes, toys, masks, and puppets.
Imperial City Art Museum
Located inside Changpu River Park, this fascinating museum is dedicated to the memory of the demolished wall, gates, and buildings of the Imperial City. Nine halls invoke a sense of grandeur through photos, fragments, weaponry, and memorabilia. A diorama in the museum offers a glimpse into the past, showing the vast chunk of Beijing that was enclosed by the Imperial City Wall. Other interesting galleries showcase imperial ornaments, porcelain wares, and imperial guard weapons and armor.
Beijing Museum of Natural History
With fossils and specimens of nearly every plant and animal found in China, this museum is the largest of its kind in the country, and extends its reach to include even prehistoric displays on creatures such as the woolly mammoth and Tyrannosaurus Rex. A word to the wise – the third floor isn’t for everyone, as the exhibits on human anatomy were created from dissected cadavers suspended in formaldehyde.