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Beijing Museums and Art Galleries (Self Guided), Beijing

Beijing is the political and cultural center of China. The museums in this wonderful city will impress you not only with their beauty and fascinating collections, but also with the stunning architecure of the buildings the museums are housed in. Take the following tour to discover the most popular museums in Beijing and to find out more about the city's history, traditions and culture.
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Beijing Museums and Art Galleries Map

Guide Name: Beijing Museums and Art Galleries
Guide Location: China » Beijing (See other walking tours in Beijing)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 5
Tour Duration: 4 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 9.6 Km or 6 Miles
Author: nataly
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Beijing World Art Museum
  • Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution
  • Capital Museum
  • Cultural Palace of Minorities
  • The Palace Museum
Beijing World Art Museum

1) Beijing World Art Museum

Beijing World Art Museum is a national institution that encourages foreign art research and collects exhibits. This non-profit organization works in conjunction with art museums and educational institutions around the world in a bid to promote art education, cultural communication and to educate local people on human civilization and its progress. This museum plays a major role in cross cultural communication and serves as a platform where world art is displayed.

This museum has held many high profile international exhibitions and is doing a fantastic job of bringing world art to Beijing. On your trip to Beijing, make sure you visit this impressive museum that has a hi-tech digital gallery and art centre.

Beijing World Art Museum has an array of modern display equipment and hi-tech systems that are at par with the best in the world. Skillfully combining scientific technology and art, the museum enables visitors to appreciate amazing artistic works and uses the digital image technique to provide a visual shock.

After being displayed in Japan and US, unprecedented archaeological discoveries and the best national artistic works were displayed at a centralized “Centurial National Treasure Display” exhibition here. Other popular specific displays include relics and exhibits from the Mayan civilization. Beijing World Art Museum will also continue displaying through its temporary exhibitions excellent traditional as well as contemporary artistic works from other famous museums from around the world. The museum is open in summer 8:00-18:00; in winter 9:00-17:30
Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution

2) Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution (must see)

Constructed in 1958 on Beijing’s Chang’an Avenue, the Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution is a majestic building that has been open to the public since 1960. Covering an area of 93,700 square meters, the museum is also the largest in China.

The total built-up area of 136,000 sq m includes the exhibition area and the Boxing Mansion that houses the Hall of Military Science and Technology. The museum building houses a tall seven-storied main building that is 94.7m high and two four storied wings. The main building features a gilded emblem of the Chinese PLA or People’s Liberation Army. This emblem measures six meters in diameter.

Chairman Mao Zedong’s gilded calligraphy title is featured over a giant bronze plaque that hangs over the museum’s main gate. There are two white marble sculptures on both sides of the front gate. On one side, you will find sculptures of a man and woman militia fighters and on the other a group of three soldiers from the air, marine and land forces.

At this museum, you will find a stunning array of over 140,000 military artifacts, some of them dating back to ancient times. Also on display are a few military artworks and special Chinese People’s Revolutionary war-related artifacts.

Why You Should Visit:
If you haven't seen any/many military artifacts up-close, then you can appreciate the size of the guns, missiles, canons, airplanes, tanks, etc.
It's not all modern weaponry, though – the history buffs have plenty to see, including a couple of terracotta warriors on display.
In addition, the Hall of Weapons displays equipment from China's space program, such as satellites and a two-seat orbital capsule.

Free entry, as expected, but don't forget to bring your passport/ID if you are a foreign tourist!

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 8:30am-5pm
Capital Museum

3) Capital Museum (must see)

Capital Art Museum is located on Chang’an Street western extension from where it commenced operation in the year 2005. This museum is known for its advanced technology, abundant exhibits and magnificent architecture. This large contemporary museum is a major landmark in Beijing frequented by thousands of tourists every year.

Harmoniously integrating past and present, this museum displays the rich cultural heritage of the country through art. Capital Art Museum is also an example of contemporary and classical architectural integration with its massive roof and national characteristics.

The roof especially is a standing example of overhang design of traditional Chinese architectural style. The ancient China city wall is depicted by the long stone curtain wall and ancient dias construction style is reflected in the gradient of the square. In front of the hall’s north gate, you can find Danbi, a stone carved with images such as Phoenix and Dragon.

You will enter the hall through the decorative archway that reflects the Ming Dynasty style. You will certainly be impressed with the generous usage of timbers, bronze and stone in the interior of the museum.

You can find unearthed historical heritages and past year collections on display. Regular and temporary exhibitions are held here featuring fine contemporary and traditional artistic collections.

Why You Should Visit:
The permanent exhibitions include highlights such as the history of Beijing, old folk customs, Peking opera, bronze and porcelains... but there are also various changing exhibitions. All are fascinating, nicely displayed and not overwhelming. A great option for 2-3 hours.

Free entry, but to be safe you do have to make an online reservation and bring your passport to get in.
Don't forget to bring your own food and drinks with you if planning to stay longer (some people eat in the seated corridors).

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 9am-4pm
Cultural Palace of Minorities

4) Cultural Palace of Minorities

The focal point in Beijing where people from all nationalities come together for cultural exchange is the Cultural Palace of Minorities. This palace is located on Chang’an Street and is frequented by people of diverse nationalities and cultures living in China.

This 13 storied building spans an area of 30,000 square meters and has two wings on either side of the central hall. Extensive collection displayed here includes costumes, scripts and handicrafts of different sects of minority people such as Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Tibet, Yunnan, Ningxia, Guangxi and Ghizhou.

You will find a display of materials and artifacts related to at least 56 ethnic minorities in China. Artifacts include a stunning array of traditional clothes, documents, scriptures, treaties, laws, books and religious artifacts.

Cultural Palace of Minorities also displays a variety of historical relics such as armors used during the reign of Yuan dynasty, musical instruments used during the Tang dynasty, Qing dynasty weapons and items from Western Xia.

Periodical exhibitions are held in diverse topics such as ancient costumes, scripts and bronze drums. For example, if an exhibition is held on the Guizhou’s Dong minority, boys and girls from this sect perform, play instruments and dance to transport the audience right back to the deep mountain passes where they live.

The exhibitions also showcase local architecture of the people using architectural site models. Visit the Cultural Palace of Minorities if you wish to enjoy a wonderful journey and learn about every single ethnic minority in China.
The Palace Museum

5) The Palace Museum (must see)

Enjoying the distinction of being the largest museum in China, The Palace Museum is located at the centre of the city of Beijing. It is also referred to as the “Purple” Forbidden City in Chinese and was a royal palace for at least twenty-four emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Spanning an area of 720,000 square meters, the museum contains a number of ancient halls grouped architecturally.

The Forbidden City has more than 9000 rooms and 70 halls of various sizes. Architecturally, the buildings are constructed in such a manner that they line up precisely and look completely imposing reflecting the unique Chinese architectural style.

The Palace Museum or Forbidden City is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site since 1987. At least eight million tourists visit this museum every year to view the vast gardens, extensive collection of treasures and interesting pavilions. It was built by Yongle of Ming Dynasty between 1406 and 1420 when he shifted the capital to Beijing from Nanjing. 24 Ming and Qing emperors lived here till the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1911.

The Palace Museum was opened to the public in 1925 displaying a well-organized exhibit that featured over a million treasures. You can take the help of audio guides available at the Meridian Gate to ensure that you do not miss out any part of this exciting palace.

Why You Should Visit:
Brilliantly displayed items going back centuries which tell the tale of the growth and creation of China from the earliest dynasties.
To anyone interested in history it is a fantastic experience to read about it from details in this museum rather than from a history book.

As a foreigner, it is best to purchase your tickets online to avoid the long lines. Your passport serves as the ticket for all the 3 entrances that require tickets. Just hand the guards at these entrances your passport and they will scan them and you can be on your way to enjoying the exhibits in the museum.
If you want to walk around at your own pace, go for the electronic guide, as it offers sufficient information to keep one interested to explore the many buildings.
Pay attention to the interesting details hidden amongst the building. For example, the numbers of creatures lined up along the edge of the roofs is an indication of how important the building is.
Remember to schedule at least half a day for this beautiful palace. The quality of food had improved but the lines and seats may be a problem if one visits during the peak period.
Finally, remember to wear comfortable shoes as it is a very large complex.

Opening Hours:
8:30am-5pm (April 1 — October 31); 8:30am-4:30pm (November 1 — March 31)

Walking Tours in Beijing, China

Create Your Own Walk in Beijing

Create Your Own Walk in Beijing

Creating your own self-guided walk in Beijing is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Walking Tour: Xicheng District, Beijing

Walking Tour: Xicheng District, Beijing

Xicheng District includes the largest part of the old city. In this part of Beijing, you will find fascinating Chinese architecture, the oldest standing Catholic Church and beautiful parks. Take the following tour to discover the most popular and prominent attractions in Xicheng District of Beijing.

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 8.4 Km or 5.2 Miles
Shopping Around Chaoyang Park

Shopping Around Chaoyang Park

Chaoyang Park is located in the North-East area of Beijing. The park itself represents one of Beijing’s main attractions, with its great beauty and infrastructure, as well as a number of famous markets that lie in the area. This guide will take you to some of the best features of Chaoyang Park.

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.9 Km or 4.9 Miles
Souvenir Shopping Guide

Souvenir Shopping Guide

It would be a pity to leave Beijing without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Beijing, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.8 Km or 3 Miles
Self-guided Tour: Places of Worship, South-West Beijing

Self-guided Tour: Places of Worship, South-West Beijing

Beijing’s places of worship are some of the best links to the city's history. The unique churches, Buddhist and Taoist Temples, and beautiful Muslim Mosques all tell great tales of the history of Beijing. Many of them have been partially or completely destroyed over the years either structurally by wars, or internally by the changes of political power. Visit the most beautiful places of...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.7 Km or 4.8 Miles
Walking Tour: Olympic Park, Beijing

Walking Tour: Olympic Park, Beijing

Olympic Park was built in Beijing for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2008. This complex of modern buildings boasts a unique architectural approach compared to the more traditional builings that fill the city. A multicolored rainbow illuminates the park, making it the perfect place for an evening walk. Take the following tour to discover the unique buildings of Olympic Park that represent...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 Km or 2.4 Miles
Shopping in North Beijing

Shopping in North Beijing

Northern Beijing is home to the famous historic Shichahai area. This picturesque area between Forbidden City and Olympic Park consists of three lakes, the Confucius and Lama Temples and is a great illustration of a traditional Chinese district. Check out the most popular shopping places in North Beijing in the next self-guided tour.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 Km or 2 Miles

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