10 Must-visit Museums in China
China is one of most fascinating destinations in the world, especially boasting its long history and splendid culture. The continuous civilization over 5,000 years does give this nation authority when speaking of history and culture. Beyond no doubt, it’s always on the top of travel list for those history lovers. In this blog, we collects the top 10 Chinese museums that you should never miss during your China holiday.
- National Museum of China
The British Exhibition, the Louvre Museum Collection Exhibition, Picasso, Rodin, Rembrandt and other masters’ exhibitions, all of those tour exhibitions are so dazzling, which is the sole strength of the National Museum. The Earthen Tripod with the Shape of Eagle of Yangshao Culture, the Three-Colored Figurines Riding Camel and Dancing, and so on are definitely exhibits that museum enthusiasts must worship. If you are interested in modern history, you can slowly visit several exhibition halls on the “Road to Revival”. Thematic exhibitions are most attractive to museum experts. Sometimes you just have to watch and listen, and someone will tell you the story of the exhibit. As to whether the interpretation is correct, it depends on your own judgment.
Tips: The National Museum of China is closed on Mondays, and you’d better avoid weekends. It is best to make an online reservation in advance, and picking up tickets at the scene can usually be entered quickly. There are two security checks to enter the museum, and you have no better way than to wait patiently.
- The Palace Museum
I believe you have heard of someone queuing for more than 6 hours in order to see Qingming Shanghe Tu (Ascending the River at Qingming Festival), while the job posting for the museum has turned out to be a documentary “I am repairing cultural relics in the museum”. In the new media era, the museum’s Weibo, WeChat, APP and cultural and creative products have a lot of fans. There are 1,862,690 (sets) exhibits in the museum, including 50,060 emperor and queen jade seals, and only over 10,000 pieces are displayed each year. These cultural relics are distributed in more than 70 exhibition halls, and they can’t be seen for a whole day, so choose the exhibition hall you are interested in and taste it. Most people will also spend some time in the cultural and creative store to buy beautiful and lovely crafts, and bring the cute royal items home.
Tips: It’s best to do some preparation before going to the Palace Museum. The website of the new version of the Museum (www.dpm.org.cn) is powerful. You can book tickets online, check the exhibitions and exhibition hall information, and plan routes in advance according to the “Panoramic Palace”.
- Suzhou Museum
Leaving aside the exhibits, Suzhou Museum, designed by the famous architect Ieoh Ming Pei, is a masterpiece of architecture-taking into account the color of the Gusu pink wall and black tiles, and incorporating modern design elements such as logs, steel frames, and glass. The flaky rockery in the middle courtyard and the waterscape are separated from Buyuan by a wall. The completion of the museum has shocked the entire museum community. Celadon lotus-flower-shaped bowl (Yue ware) and Pearl Pillar of the Buddhist Shrine are the treasures of the museum. Don’t miss the “Wuzhong Fengya” series of exhibition halls, where you can see a variety of handicrafts in Suzhou’s heyday, each of which showcases ingenious skills. While hovering in the museum, you can also inadvertently discover the beauty of Suzhou gardens, with hexagonal glass windows stacked on top of each other; sitting on the soft lounge chair in the exhibition hall and looking out the window, you can see emerald bamboo and the courtyard garden.
Tips: Free interpretation is available daily at 9:45, 13:30, 13:45, and 14:15. Some volunteers are even more meticulous than the paid interpreters.
- Shaanxi History Museum
Shaanxi History Museum, known as “ancient capital pearl, Chinese treasure house”, is an artistic hall which displays Shaanxi history, culture and Chinese ancient civilization. Here is perhaps the most congested provincial (national) museum except for the Palace Museum. The various tour groups and naughty children are always destroying your mood. However, in just a few hours, you can look at many “national treasures” of thousands of years, and everything is worth it. There are the pottery of Banpo, the bronze tripod of the Western Zhou Dynasty, the terracotta warriors of the Qin Dynasty, the emperor’s seal of the Han Dynasty, the seal of the queen of the Sui Dynasty, the three-colored figurines of the Tang Dynasty, and Yaozhou porcelain of the Song Dynasty, all of which take you through the long river of history. If you are willing to spend money, please don’t miss the Tang Dynasty Mural Treasures Exhibition Hall (CNY300); there, 97 Tang Dynasty murals (mostly from the palaces of princesses and princes) take you through a journey to the Tang Dynasty.
Tips: It is recommended to book tickets on the museum’s website (www.sxhm.com) one week in advance if you go to the museum during the peak season. Otherwise, you have to queue up for tickets or spend CNY20 to buy special exhibition tickets for Hejiacun cultural relics.
- Taipei Palace Museum
Taipei Palace Museum is one of the most prestigious treasure trove of Chinese treasures in the world. More than 700,000 pieces of cultural relics from the Forbidden City, Shengjing Palace, Chengde Summer Resort, Yiheyuan Garden, and Guozijian, covering the essence of Chinese royal collection for hundreds of years, can be described as the epitome of Chinese civilization. Duke Mao Tripod, Jadeite Cabbage with Insects and Meat-shaped Stone are top three popular exhibits. However, paintings, calligraphy, bronzes, ceramics and jade are also significant. Calligraphy & paintings and Ruyao celadon of Song Dynasty are also particularly dazzling. The Yongzheng enamel color and flower and bird paintings brought from the Qing Palace are also wonderful. If you are interested in Zhang Daqian, his former residence is now converted into a memorial and is opened for public. The affiliated restaurant (www.silkspalace.com.tw) here also tastes good, and the dish is designed very ingeniously. Here, spiritual pursuit and appetite can be satisfied at the same time.
Tips: If you want to avoid crowds, there are fewer visitors after 4:30 pm on weekdays, and on Friday and Saturday nights; if you go at noon, you can also grab some free time while most tourists are dining.
- Sanxingdui Museum and Jinsha Museum
Simply saying that one of the two is incomplete, the Sanxingdui site and the Jinsha site both represent the ancient Sichuan civilization and have the same heritage. In terms of age, Sanxingdui is the ancestor of Jinsha. The Bronze Pavilion of Sanxingdui is the essence of the entire site. It displays rare treasures, including Bronze Longitudinal Eye Mask, the Bronze Standing Figure, Bronze Human Head, etc. The Sun-and-Bird Gold Foil has become a symbol of Chinese cultural heritage. There is another reason to highly recommend these two museums: the Heavenly Gold Tree, the Longitudinal Eye Mask, the Sun-and-Bird Gold Foil, and the Gold Mask are the only cultural relics in the world that have never been displayed. The interpretation consists of such words of “probability” and “guessing” , which will make you feel more awe of the ancient Sichuan civilization in addition to the mystery.
Tips: It is recommended that you go to Sanxingdui first and then to the Jinsha Museum. The interpreters in both halls are excellent and can give you a lot of information and stories not available in audio guides.
- Shanghai Museum
Shanghai has no history but why go to Shanghai to see the museum? You have made two mistakes in one sentence. Shanghai was one of China’s first batch of historical and cultural cities; in the late Qing Dynasty and the Republic of China, top collectors and cultural relic traders gathered in Shanghai. Of course, some cultural relics were eventually dedicated to the museum. The most classic collection is the bronzes of the pre-Qin dynasty. The number one treasure of the museum is the Da Ke Ding (food vessel) in the Western Zhou Dynasty; the appearance of the museum is also designed with reference to the shape of Da Ke Ding. The collection of traditional calligraphy and paintings is another strong point of the museum, and you can see many masterpieces. Shanghai is China’s most western city, so museums often have high-level special exhibitions from abroad. After reading the domestic fine cultural relics, you can feel the top treasures from other places without going out, which is really cool.
Tips: Every time the museum holds a first-class foreign special exhibition, there are many more people waiting in line to get tickets. You may first book your tickets on the museum’s website (www.shanghaimuseum.net) .
- Hubei Provincial Museum
The Marquis Yi of the Zeng State was actually buried with a full set of 64 chime-bells? With questions into Hubei Provincial Museum, you can intuitively feel the changes in Jingchu land for thousands of years. There are more than 230,000 collections in Hubei Provincial Museum, of which about one thousand are grade-one cultural relics of the state. Just look at it, you can understand to what extent the museum is luxurious, but the funerary items unearthed from the tomb of Marquis Yi of the Zeng State have been settled into a separate exhibition hall, including the whole set of chime-bells, bronze plate, Lujiao Lihe and so on, which are all national first-class cultural relics; In the exhibition hall of Liangzhuangwang’s tomb, those exquisite funerary items, such as the gold ingots brought back by Zheng He to the west, and the beautiful blue and white porcelain, all show us the “Yongxuan Flourishing Age”, the early stage of the Ming Dynasty.
Tips: The museum provides chime-bells performances (10:30, 11:30, 14:30, 15:30, 20 minutes for each play, with CNY15 / person), of course, with duplicate chime-bells.
- Nanjing Museum
Nanjing Museum History Hall is an imitation hall of the Liao Dynasty, which itself can be called a masterpiece. The ancient Jiangsu civilization exhibition standing in the hall have countless treasures, presenting in all directions the development history of 5,000 years of civilization in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River. First look at the Unique Treasure Hall, only one exhibit is displayed in each period, but it can evoke a long history. There are exhibitions of masters and artists from various factions in the Art Hall. The Republic of China Hall restores the life style of Jinling in a lively way; in the Non-Hermitage Museum Hall, the non-heritage skills performed by the national inheritors on-site are far better than the graphic materials. The display is more vivid.
Tips: Nanjing Museum has a variety of fun interactive experiences. You can sit for a while at the Minguo Cafe or buy a freshly made Sun Wukong in front of the dough figurine booth, so be sure to have enough time and money.
- Henan Museum
Henan Museum, located in the ancient Central Plains, has unique exhibit sources: archeological excavation from Shangqiu, Luoyang, Anyang, Kaifeng and other places. Therefore, whenever the interpreters in the museum introduce cultural relics, the story that excites the audience most should be archeological discoveries. There are many things to see here, such as pottery, bronze, jade, stone carvings, etc.; the rows of tall Han tomb pottery houses are particularly spectacular. Treasures such as Square Ewer with Design of Lotus and Crane, Mural Painting of Four Animals in Clouds, Jade Burial Suit Sewn with Gold Wire are directly incorporated into the history textbook.
Tips: The museum is closed every Monday except national holidays, year-round. There is no admittance after 16:00. Exhibition Hall is closed at 17:00 each day.