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The National Museum of China

The National Museum of China

Written by Chris QuanUpdated Aug. 14, 2023
The National Museum of ChinaThe National Museum of China

Beijing has about six or seven major tourist highlights including the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, and the Great Wall. But the National Museum of China is often overlooked by tourists though it sits right next to The Forbidden City and Tian'anmen. It is actually one of China's best museums and is the world's third most visited museum.

  • World's third most visited: Only the National Museum of Natural History in the US and the Louvre in France get more visitors.
  • 7.5 million visitors: In 2013, there were 7.5 million visitors.
  • One of China's grandest antiquities museums: Perhaps only the Shaanxi Museum in Xi'an has more ancient treasure. The National Museum is known for its collection of Qing era (1644 to 1912) imperial treasure and ancient porcelain and cloisonne ware.
  • Historical museum: The main emphasis of the museum is to teach about China's imperial history, WWII, the Communist victory, and China's modern history.
  • Free entry for foreign tourists.

The National Museum — One of China's Biggest Collections of Ancient Treasures

Tian'anmen from the National Museum of ChinaTian'anmen from the National Museum of China

With so many other interesting places in Beijing to go to, foreign tourists often miss this premier national museum on the eastern side of Tian'anmen. It is the most visited museum in Asia. The ancient antiques exhibit is among the best in the country, but the museum main emphasis is modern history.

The grand capital city scenery all around Tian'anmen is worth a look around. So while you are looking around at all the modern and ancient construction, you can visit the museum. Entry to the National Museum is free for foreign tourists.

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Amazing Antiques and Treasures Inside

The highlight for the tourists is the thousands of pieces of artwork, treasures, and artifacts. Some of it is worth a lot of money, and many pieces are quite beautiful showing the techniques and styles changing over the centuries.

Many of these antiques are displayed in "China Through the Ages." It is a chronological display up to the Qing Dynasty. They are also displayed in galleries called Bronze Art, Jade, Porcelain, Coins, Buddhist Sculpture, Chinese Calligraphy and Paintings, Ming (1368 to 1644) & Qing Furniture, and others.

  • Houmuwu Ding: A Shang era (1700 BC to 1000 BC) ding (cauldron with legs) that is more than 3,000 years old is the major highlight. It weighs 832 kilograms and is the world's most massive ancient bronze object.
  • Li Gui: Another cauldron was discovered in 1976 from the Zhou era (1045 to 221) that is believed to commemorate the Zhou conquest of the Shang territory. It is so important that it is not allowed to leave the country.
  • Hundreds of ceramics pieces: Stone age ceramics and the artwork of craftsmen in the region over a period of thousands of years are displayed. Many piece are strikingly beautiful and intricate, and you can spend hours just looking at them.

While at the Museum See the Adjacent Highlights

 Forbidden CityThe Forbidden City is near the National Museum

The grand capital city scenery all around Tian'anmen is worth a look around. So while you are looking around at all the modern and ancient construction, you can visit the museum. Entry to the National Museum is free for foreign tourists.

All around Tian'anmen, you can see the contrast between the ancient imperial construction and modern government buildings and vast plazas and open areas. It is scenic, and seems otherworldly in congested Beijing.

The Forbidden City (Palace Museum) is the most massive complex of preserved ancient structures in China and is 600 years old. It is now China's best museum. It was the best of China's architecture. The Palace Museum is a highlight for learning history and seeing exhibits.

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Travel Essentials

  • Chinese: 中国国家博物馆 Zhōngguó Guójiā Bówùguǎn /jong-gwor gwor-jyaa bor-woo-gwann/ 'China National Museum'
  • Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, must enter by 4:00 pm.
  • Subway: Line 1 to Tian'anmen East Station or Line 2 to Qianmen Station
  • Photography: Permitted but no flash.
  • Lines and security: There may be long lines, especially on weekends/holidays. Expect X-ray scanners and being frisked by guards. Personal items, tripods, and equipment may have to be left at the entryway.

Touring China's Museums with China Highlights

Forbidden CityForbidden City touring

The National Museum is one of the best museums, and there are others in Beijing and around the country to see too.

8-Day Tour of Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an: The Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Great Wall, Summer Palace, Terracotta Warriors, and Shaanxi History Museum are just part of this tour. Tell us, and we'll include the National Museum.

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