Located just to the east of Tiananmen Square, the National Museum is a must-see for history and culture buffs. Created initially for exhibitions on the Cultural Revolution, it is now one of the largest museums in the world with 48 exhibition halls. It is particularly notable for the variety and depth of ancient Chinese art exhibits, including beautiful jade carvings and buddhist sculptures.
You could easily spend a day exploring, helped by the provision of coffee shops, souvenir stores, an auditorium and huge theatre – where during peak season there are often events and shows.
Prehistoric Teeth (Ancient China galleries)
The oldest artefacts in the museum are the teeth of Yuanmou Man, over 1.7 million years old! They is displayed alongside ancient stoneware tools and delicately carved ritual objects made from jade.
Ancient Chinese Bronze Art (central hall 2)
The most famous treasure of the museum, the Shang dynasty Simuwu Ding is the largest piece of ancient bronzeware in China. Don’t forget to also checkout the nearby Four Ram Zun, another artefact of high historic value and impressive size.
Tang Pottery (gallery N17)
Famous for the iconic tricolour decorations, the museum’s collection of beautiful Tang dynasty pottery is well worth exploring. In particular, look out for the Musicians and Dancing Figures on Camelback piece, excavated in 1957 from Xi’an.
Buddhist Sculptures (central hall 2)
These amazing pieces of Buddhist art, most from temples and monasteries all around China, make an amazing spectacle. Many were recovered from foreign museums or are on loan from larger collections elsewhere in the country.
Jade Carvings (gallery S13)
China is famous for its beautiful jade carvings and sculptures. Check out the incredible Han dynasty Jade Shroud Sewn with Gold Thread, an absolutely beautiful artefact demonstrating how much the Han emperors and empresses valued such exquisite and high value items.
Opening hours: 9:00 – 17:00, closed Mondays
Recommended visit: 2-3 hours
Transport: metro line 1 to Tiananmen East (天安门东 – exit D) or metro line 2 to Qianmen (前门 – exit A). The museum is located on the east side of Guangchang East Side Road (广场东侧路) opposite Tiananmen Square.