Culture

Museums and Monuments

Beijing has a wonderful variety of museums and monuments which give visitors insight into Chinese culture and history. There is something for every taste and interest.

Running along the eastern side of Tiananmen Square is the National Museum of China which incorporates the Museum of Chinese History and the Museum of Chinese Revolution.

In the center of Tiananmen Square is the enormous Monument to the Peoples’ Heroes and on the square’s south side is the Memorial Hall of Chairman Mao featuring the crystal coffin containing the former Chairman.

Located in the stunning buildings of the Forbidden City palace complex is the Palace Museum, housing in several enormous halls an awesome collection of treasures from the days of China’s imperial dynasties.

The China Century Monument was created to celebrate the arrival of the 21st century. Covering 11 acres in Hai Dian District, it includes the China People’s Revolution Military Museum, the Beijing World Art Museum, the Holy Fire Square and the Bronze Thoroughfare.

(Pillar at Mao Tse-tung mausoleum) Pillar at Mao Tse-tung mausoleum.

Many cultural performances are held on the revolving platform of the China Century Monument’s main building. The carved relief patterns on the platform represent 56 ethnic groups within the republic of China, while the 40 bronze statues in the cloisters are of Chinese celebrities.

Visitors can gain an overview of China’s 5,000 year history by viewing the massive colorful mural carved in relief, 16 feet high and 394 feet long, in the Great Century Hall of the World Art Museum.

Holy Fire Square is a dramatic installation with two springs, representing the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, flowing down the stairs of the platform. The 960 pieces of granite that make up the square symbolize the 9,600,000 square kilometer area of China. Extending 886 feet from Holy Fire Square is the Bronze Thoroughfare which records in 180,000 characters the evolution of human history and key Chinese historical events.

For a greater understanding of the 56 ethnic groups that make up the Republic of China, visitors have a choice. The Ethnic Museum, in the Central University for Nationalities in Haidian District, houses diverse collections of ethnic costumes, art, handicrafts, porcelain and calligraphy and also includes items from the Paleolithic and Neolithic ages. The Chinese Ethnic Museum in Beijing, opposite the west door of the National Olympic Sports Center in Chaoyang, hosts many ethnic cultural performances and has an extraordinary display of life-size buildings from various ethnic groups around China, with over 36 national villages in the North and South Gardens. This museum contains the largest cast iron sculpture in China in Sculpture Square.

(Communist stone statues at Tiananmen Square) Communist stone statues
at Tiananmen Square.

For an introduction to Chinese arts and crafts visitors can take in the striking exhibits of embroidery, bronzeware, porcelain, jade and ivory carving, cloisonné, lacquerware and calligraphy, at the Beijing Arts and Crafts Museum on the fourth floor of the Gongmei Emporium in Dongcheng District. Contemporary Chinese arts and crafts are displayed at the National Arts and Crafts Museum on the fifth floor Parkson Department Store.

The Great Wall Museum of China in Yanqing County near the Great Wall at Badaling gives insight into the history of this remarkable monument, including construction techniques, famous battles, and modern reconstruction.

Other fascinating museums include the Traditional Chinese Medicine Museum affiliated to Beijing University, the China Printing Museum in Huangcun Town, Daxing County, which has many displays explaining the invention and development of printing, and the China Currency Museum, on the west side of Tiananmen Square, which contains collections of ancient, contemporary and foreign currencies.