National Museum of China

The National Museum of China (simplified Chinese: 中国国家博物馆; traditional Chinese: 中國國家博物館; pinyin: Zhōngguó guójiā bówùguǎn) flanks the eastern side of Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China. The mission of the museum is to educate about the arts and history of China. It is directed by the Ministry of Culture of the People's Republic of China.


The museum was re-organized in 2003 out of two separate museums that already occupied the building: the Museum of the Chinese Revolution in the northern wing and the National Museum of Chinese History in the southern wing. The Museum of the Chinese Revolution had been open since 1959 and had its origins in the Office of the National Museum of the Revolution, founded in 1950. The National Museum of Chinese History opened its doors in 1959 and had its origins in the Beijing National History Museum, founded in 1949, and the prior Preliminary Office of the National History Museum from 1912.

The building was completed in 1959 commensurate with the ten-year celebration of Communist rule. It complements the opposing Great Hall of the People that was built at the same time. The structure sits on 65,000 ㎡ and has a frontal length of 313 meters, a height of four stories totaling 40 meters, and a width of 149 meters. The front displays eleven square pillars at its center.

After four years of renovation, the museum reopened on March 17th, 2011 with 28 new exhibition halls and more than triple the previous exhibition space and state of the art exhibition facilities and storage. It will have a total floor space of nearly 191,900 square meters with more than a million national treasures in its collection. The renovations were designed by the German firm Gerkan, Marg and Partners.


The Museum of Chinese History covers Chinese history from the Yuanmou Man of 1.7 million years ago to the end of the Qing Dynasty (the last imperial dynasty).

The National Museum of China contains over 620,385 cultural items in its permanent art collection, and the museum displays many precious and rare Chinese historical artifacts that are not found in many other museums in China and around the world.

Some of the most important collections at the National Museum of China are the "Simuwu Ding" (a form of vessel) from the Shang Dynasty, which was cast over 3,000 years ago and weighing 832.84 kg, and it is the heaviest ancient bronze ware in the world; the Shang Dynasty square bronze "Zun" (wine vessel) decorated with four sheep heads, a large rare inscribed Western Zhou Dynasty (11th century BC - 771 BC) bronze Pan, gold-inlaid bronze tally in the shape of a tiger from the Qin Dynasty, a Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) jade burial suit sewn with gold thread, and a comprehensive collection of tri-colored glazed sancai of the Tang Dynasty and ceramics from the Song Dynasty.

Other usage

Because of its central location in Tiananmen Square, the front of the museum has been used since the 1990s for the display of countdown clocks relating to occasions of national importance. The first such clock counted down towards the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong in 1997. The second counted down towards the transfer of sovereignty of Macau in 1999 and the third clock counted down towards the 2008 Beijing Olympics. On the fourth occasion it was used, the clock counted down towards the opening of Expo 2010 Shanghai China.

Building Activity