The National Museum of China

The National Museum of China is the largest museum in the world in terms of single-building floor area, boasting an impressive 48 independent exhibition halls. It’s a haven for visitors keen on exploring a myriad of rare exhibits, making it an ideal destination for history buffs and students alike.

Highly recommended are the Ancient China exhibit, the central halls on the first floor of the South Wing and the fourth floor of the North Wing, the exhibit on Ancient Chinese Clothing and Cuisine Culture, and the Stone Grotto Corridor in the South 3 East Gallery.

The Ancient China exhibit, located on the basement level, displays relics from the Neolithic era, including the human-faced fish-pattern pottery, various Shang Dynasty bronze cauldrons, and the Ming Dynasty Nine Dragons and Phoenixes Crown.

The National Museum of China

Many historical items, like the Simuwu Cauldron and Bianzhong bells that have been featured in history books, can be found here, offering visitors a sense of familiarity.

The central hall on the first floor of the South Wing showcases original historic relics from the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, including the national emblem of New China, the microphone Chairman Mao used during the founding ceremony, and the original signboards and stamps.

In contrast, the central hall on the fourth floor of the North Wing displays China’s scientific achievements through the ages, from ancient wheel-mounted cannon carriages and silk looms to modern aircraft carriers, Long March rocket models, and the Yutu lunar rover, filling visitors with a deep sense of pride.

The Ancient Chinese Clothing Culture exhibit focuses on interactivity, meticulously presenting the evolution of Chinese attire from the simple elegance of the Han Dynasty, through the grandeur of the Tang Dynasty, to the dignified styles of the Ming Dynasty.

The National Museum of China

Complete with annotated diagrams showing ancient attire from head to toe, visitors can also enjoy an interactive experience choosing and appreciating the clothing styles.

Equally engaging is the Ancient Chinese Food Culture exhibit, where visitors can see ancient dining utensils and foods and even have a hands-on experience in the ancient dining area, posing with set-up models for photos.

The Stone Grotto Corridor in the South 3 East Gallery is also worth a visit; the cave replicas and Buddha statues, created using 3D printing at actual scale, make visitors feel as if they’re walking into the Mogao Caves of Dunhuang, offering an incredibly authentic experience.

Transportation: The National Museum is located opposite Tiananmen Square and is accessible via Subway Line 1, alighting at either Exit C or D of Tiananmen East Station; or by taking buses 1, 2, 52, 120, and others to Tiananmen East Station, followed by a short walk. Parking around the museum can be difficult; thus, public transportation is recommended.

Admission: Free. Advance reservation is required, which can be made through the National Museum’s official WeChat account.

Tips to Avoid Common Pitfalls:

The National Museum of China

  1. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and is closed on Mondays. It does not accept same-day reservations. For convenience, visitors are advised to book through the WeChat account or via the official website or mobile app.
  2. The museum allows reservations up to 7 days in advance, with tickets released promptly at 5:00 PM daily. Available time slots are 9:00-11:00 AM, 11:00 AM-1:30 PM, and 1:30-4:30 PM. Be sure to arrive within your reserved time slot, or you won’t be granted entry.
  3. The museum is vast and does not offer detailed paper maps. First-time visitors should consult the exhibition guide and suggested routes on the WeChat account, which includes recommendations for different visit durations and customizable planning options for convenience.
  4. Security checks at the museum are stringent. Notebooks will be inspected for prohibited items, marker pens will be confiscated, power banks will be examined, and water bottles must be tasted on-site. In winter, visitors wearing coats or down jackets must open them for inspection, and selfie sticks are not permitted inside.
  5. Due to numerous exhibition halls within the museum, it’s common to encounter some being set up or taken down, which may slightly affect the visitor experience. Be aware that there might be ongoing construction or dismantling in the exhibition areas, particularly in the South 2 Exhibition Hall and the North 17 Exhibition Hall.
  6. Photography is allowed in some exhibition halls, but videography is not. When taking photos, ensure that the flash is turned off. Exhibitions with special requirements will have notices posted at the entrance; it’s recommended to consult with staff before taking photos.
  7. Parking is challenging near Chang’an Street, where the museum is situated. Again, the use of public transportation is highly advised.

Itinerary

The National Museum of China

The National Museum is vast, with each thematic exhibition hall offering an abundance of items to see. You can tailor your visit to your available time. For those on a tight schedule, it’s recommended not to miss Ancient China and the Central Hall, where spending half a day will provide a fulfilling experience.

One-hour Recommended Route:

Ground Floor – “Ancient China Exhibition”

Two-hour Recommended Route:

North Wing Theme Displays: Room N18 “Ancient Chinese Clothing and Culture Exhibition”, Room N17 “Ancient Chinese Porcelain Art Exhibition”, Room N19 “Ancient Chinese Buddhist Statuary”

South Wing Theme Displays: Room S13 “Ancient Chinese Jade Art”, Room S11 “Ancient Chinese Coins Exhibition”, Room S12 “Ancient Chinese Calligraphy and Painting”

The Road to Revival: Room S5 and Room S10 “The New Era Section of The Road to Revival”; North Wing Rooms 5-7 and Rooms 12-15 “The Road to Revival”

Red Tourism Theme Exhibition: Central Hall 1 “Standing Tall in the East – Classic Artworks from the Museum Collection”; Room S5 and Room S10 “The New Era Section of The Road to Revival”; North Wing Rooms 5-7 and Rooms 12-15 “The Road to Revival”

Full Day Recommended Route:

Begin at Room N18 “Ancient Chinese Clothing and Culture Exhibition”, then to Room N17 “Ancient Chinese Porcelain Art Exhibition”, followed by Room N19 “Ancient Chinese Buddhist Statuary”, moving to Room S13 “Ancient Chinese Jade Art”, Room S11 “Ancient Chinese Coins Exhibition”, Room S12 “Ancient Chinese Calligraphy and Painting”, and then to the special exhibition of “The Road to Revival” in Rooms S5 and S10 “The New Era Section of The Road to Revival”, continuing to North Wing Rooms 5-7 and Rooms 12-15 “The Road to Revival”. For the Red Tourism Theme Exhibition, visit Central Hall 1 “Standing Tall in the East – Classic Artworks from the Museum Collection” and then Rooms S5 and S10 “The New Era Section of The Road to Revival”, North Wing Rooms 5-7 and Rooms 12-15 “The Road to Revival”, and concluding with the “Ancient China Exhibition” on the Ground Floor.

Detailed Guide

  1. The C or D exit of the “Tiananmen East” subway station is the closest to the entrance of the National Museum. It’s a mere 3-minute walk from the subway exit to the museum entrance. For those biking or using shared bikes, you can park on Nanchizi Street, just a few hundred meters from Tiananmen Square, or within the nearby alleys, which are home to large courtyard houses and luxurious residences. Cars can be parked in designated underground parking lots; there are several parking areas about 200 meters from Nanchizi Street, which can be located using a map.
  2. The museum opens promptly at 9:00 AM. It is recommended to arrive early to wait, as this not only avoids the crowds but also saves time in line, especially during school holidays and extended weekends.
  3. Once you’ve completed the security check inside the museum, you can visit the information desk to take a photo of the guide map since paper maps are not provided on-site.
  4. Complimentary electronic guide services are available through the “National Museum” WeChat mini-program or app. Simply select “Listen to the Exhibition” under the “Guide” section and choose the thematic commentary that interests you to enjoy an audio-guided tour.
  5. If you wish to collect museum souvenir stamps, you can purchase a stamp card at the cultural and creative store located on the B1 level of the South Gallery (the stamp card costs around 48 yuan and includes 9 cards). Alternatively, if you prefer not to spend money on a stamp card, you are welcome to bring your own paper and use the self-service stamping machines scattered throughout the museum to imprint the various artifact stamps.
  6. The National Museum’s west entrance features dining spaces on the slopes to the south and north, a food center on the B1 floor of the museum theater, and a café in the Fuxing Road lobby designated as dining areas for visitors.
  7. There are luggage storage facilities outside the museum. The fee for storing bags smaller than 30 centimeters is 2 yuan per use; for items measuring 30 to 60 centimeters, the fee is 5 yuan per use; and for luggage or items over 60 centimeters, or those requiring item registration on a log sheet, the fee is 10 yuan per use.
  8. The museum offers electronic audio guide rentals for 40 yuan per device. These can be rented at the museum service desk, where you’ll need to fill out an audio guide rental form and pay a 100 yuan deposit.
  9. There are vending machines for hot and cold beverages inside the museum. When purchasing carbonated drinks, please be cautious to prevent splashing.
  10. There are commemorative zodiac medallion vending machines located near the South 1-4 Exhibition Halls, with each medallion priced at 50 yuan. Visitors interested in purchasing a keepsake are welcome to do so.
  11. The National Museum is located near Tiananmen Square. If time permits, you can also visit nearby attractions such as Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum and the Monument to the People’s Heroes.

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