China Travel Guide

Beijing Museums & Galleries

  • Beijing Capital Museum
  • Beijing Natural History Museum
  • National Art Museum of China
  • Chinese Military History Museum
  • Southeast Corner Watchtower
  • Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall
  • Beijing Capital Museum

    • 16 Fuxingmenwai Dajie
    • Muxidi
    • 010 6337 0491
    • 9am–5pm Tue–Sun

    Beijing’s premier museum has a collection of 200,000 of the best Chinese art and antiquities over five floors. An interesting film telling the story of Beijing is screened every 30 minutes. English captions on the exhibits are limited, so it is worth hiring an audio guide.

    Natural History Museum
    Natural History Museum

    Beijing Natural History Museum

    • 126 Tianqiao Nan Dajie, Chongwen
    • 3 C3
    • Qian Men, then taxi
    • 010 6702 4439
    • 9am–5pm Tue–Sat

    This museum is the largest of its type in China, with about 5,000 specimens arranged into three collections. The Paleontology Hall displays a selection of the prehistoric animals that populated China millions of years ago. The zoology section explains and illustrates the course of evolution, and a basement houses a macabre display of human cadavers, pickled corpses, limbs, and organs. The botany collection is less impressive.

    National Art Museum of China

    • 1 Wusi Dajie, Dongcheng
    • 2 D4
    • Dong Si
    • 010 8403 3500
    • 9am–5pm daily, last entry 4pm

    Hosting a number of exhibitions of Chinese and international art, as well as occasional photographic displays, the National Art Museum of China (Zhongguo Meishuguan) has 14 halls spread over three levels. This quite ordinary building holds an exciting range of Chinese modern art, which suffers less censorship than other media, such as film or literature. Magazines such as Time Out Beijing and The Beijinger carry details of current and forthcoming exhibitions.

    Chinese Military History Museum

    • 9 Fuxing Lu, Haidian
    • Junshi Bowuguan
    • 010 6686 6244
    • 8am–5pm daily

    Topped by a gilded emblem of the People’s Liberation Army, the Chinese Military History Museum is devoted to weaponry and revolutionary heroism. It is close to Muxidi, where the People’s Liberation Army killed scores of civilians in 1989. Visitors are greeted by paintings of Mao, Marx, Lenin, and Stalin. The ground floor exhibits defunct F-5 and F-7 jet fighter planes, tanks, and surface-to-air missiles. The top gallery chronicles with pride many of China’s military campaigns.

    Southeast Corner Watchtower

    • Off Jianguo Men Nan Dajie, Chongwen
    • 4 F2
    • Beijing Zhan

    Red Gate Gallery

    • 010 6525 1005
    • 9am–5pm daily
    • For exhibition details visit
    Southeast Corner Watchtower (Dongbian Men Jian Lou)
    Southeast Corner Watchtower
    (Dongbian Men Jian Lou)
    The atmospheric Red Gate Gallery, Southeast Corner Watchtower
    The atmospheric Red Gate Gallery,
    Southeast Corner Watchtower

    A short distance south of the Ancient Observatory, an imposing chunk of the Beijing City Walls survives in the form of the 15th-century Southeast Corner Watchtower (Dongnan Jiao Lou). After climbing onto the Ming dynasty battlements, visitors can walk along the short but impressive stretch of attached wall to admire the towering bastion, pitted with archers’ windows, and look down on the city below. The walls of the tower are engraved with graffiti left by soldiers of the international army that marched into the city to liberate the Foreign Legations during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900.

    Within its splendid, cavernous interior, accessed from the battlements, the rooms reveal enormous red wooden columns and pillars, crossed with beams. The Red Gate Gallery, one of Beijing’s most appealing art galleries, is situated within this superb setting on levels 1 and 4. Originally founded in 1991 by an Australian who came to Beijing to learn Chinese, the gallery exhibits works in a wide variety of media by up-and-coming contemporary Chinese and foreign artists. Forthcoming exhibitions are listed on the gallery’s website.

    Planning and Exhibition Hall

    • 20 Qian Men Dong Dajie
    • 3 C2
    • Qian Men
    • 010 6702 4559
    • 9am–5pm Tue–Sun

    This impressive museum, just east of the historic Qian Men area, offers a glimpse into what Beijing’s future has in store. The highlight is a huge scale model of what the city should look like in 2020, complete with a sound and light show. In contrast, the museum also has models and historical photographs of old Beijing.

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