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10 Museums You Must Visit in Beijing

Picture of Anastasiia Ilina
Updated: 23 May 2017
Not only does Beijing effortlessly combine traditional and contemporary Chinese culture, it also brings together the arts and sciences in a wide range of fascinating museums. Here are ten of the best.
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National Museum of China

The National Museum of China is an eclectic art gallery located on Tiananmen Square in the very heart of Beijing. It exhibits a wide range of artefacts, arranged historically from the ancient era all the way through to modern art. Established in 2003, it is a merger of two museums that occupied the two wings of the same building: The Museum of the Chinese Revolution and The National Museum of Chinese History. It also regularly features temporary exhibitions from around the world.

Tiananmen Square, 16 East Chang’an Avenue, Dongcheng, Beiijing, China +86 10 6511 6400

Opening hours: 9:00am-3:30pm. Closed on Mondays.

Entrance fee: Free. Passport required at the entrance.

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Folklore Museum

The Folklore Museum is housed in the city’s Dongyue Temple. Originally built in the 14th century as a temple for conducting rituals and ceremonies, today it attracts large crowds during major national celebrations, such as the Spring Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival. Of special interest are the Taoist Departments of Death that are located in the Temple – each inhabited by graphic and memorable statues of monks, spirits and demons.

141 Chaoyangmen Outer Street, Chaoyang, Beijing, China +86 10 6551 0151

Opening hours: 9:00am-4:30pm. Closed on Mondays.

Entrance fee: 10 RMB.

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Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall

The planning of ancient Chinese cities has a rich and organised past, boasting a history of 3000 years. The exhibition hall was opened in 2004 and displays a detailed scale model of Beijing. A geographical model of the city is also on display, showing the mountains, rivers and the structure of roads around the city. If you opt for a two-hour audio tour, it will provide detailed information throughout the multiple exhibition zones. It also displays the future plans for the city’s development, that would see China develop into a eco-friendly city.

20 East Qianmen Avenue, Dongcheng, Beijing, China +86 10 6701 7074

Opening hours: 9:00am-5:00pm. Closed on Mondays.

Entrance fee: 30 RMB.

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China Red Sandalwood Museum

Located in a wooden structure in the style of Ming and Qing dynasty, the Red Sandalwood Museum was built with a private investment of 200 million RMB and is the largest privately-owned museum in China. It features artworks and models of ancient architecture, such as the traditional Chinese courtyards. Red sandalwood is a rare Chinese wood and the museum strives to promote the preservation of antique pieces of furniture. For those inspired by the visit, a museum shop sells objects made of sandalwood to take home.

23 Jianguo Street, Chaoyang, Beijing, China +86 10 8575 2818

Opening hours: 9:00am- 5:00pm. Closed on Mondays.

Entrance fee: 50 RMB.

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China Science and Technology Museum

First established in 1988, China’s only state-level science and technology museum has been steadily growing, with a new exhibition building completed in 2009. There are five permanent exhibition halls and a number of short-term exhibitions, along with laboratories, classrooms and lecture halls. While its location is a little out of the way of the centre, it is close to the Olympic Village, the combination of which make for a great day trip.

5 East Beichen Road, Chaoyang, Beijing, China +86 10 5904 1000

Opening hours: 9:00am- 5:00pm. Closed on Mondays.

Entrance fee: 30 RMB.

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National Art Museum

The Museum holds a collection of both ancient and contemporary Chinese artworks. It has been dedicated to the collection of artistic works from China since opening in 1958. The large four-storey building features a number of paintings, sculptures and other exhibits of national and cultural value. Apart from the permanent exhibition, the museum has a comprehensive rotation of visiting exhibitions to satisfy all tastes in art.

1 Wusi St, Dongcheng Qu, Beijing, China +86 10 6400 1476

Opening hours: 9:00am-5:00pm. Closed on Mondays.

Entrance fee: Free. Passport required at the entrance.

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China Nationalities Museum (China Ethnic Culture Park)

As a multicultural country with 56 ethnic groups, this museum aims to share China’s diverse culture, housing history and traditions. The minorities of China are an essential part of modern Chinese culture and following the persecution during the Cultural Revolution, their development has become an object of pride and an essential part of Chinese history.

1 Minzuyuan road, Chaoyang, Beijing, China +86 10 6206 3646

Opening hours: 8:30am-6:00pm.

Entrance fee: 90 RMB.

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Lu Xun Museum

Lu Xun was one of China’s visionaries at the turn of the century. First trained as a medical scientist, he later abandoned his career to become a writer. He was a strong supporter of the May Fourth Movement, a student-led anti-imperialist movement, and promotes the use of vernacular Chinese through his work. Located in the writer’s former residence in Beijing, it celebrates the achievements of the writer by displaying scripts and pictures from throughout his life. The museum provides an insight to the main principles of modern Chinese literature.

19 Gongmenkou 2nd Alley, Xicheng Qu, Beijing, China +86 10 6615 6549

Opening hours: 9:00am-4:00pm. Closed on Mondays.

Entrance fee: Free.

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Police Museum

Visiting the Police Museum may not be the most conventional choice of destination when travelling through China, but certainly an entertaining one. The museum’s collection includes tools and weapons that date back to the Han Dynasty. The artifacts explore the history of forensics in China and are illustrated by historical events. An interactive experience, you can even try your hand at simulated driving and laser shooting.

36 Dongjiaomin Alley, Dongcheng, Beijing, China +86 10 8522 5001

Opening hours: 9:00am-4:00pm. Closed on Mondays.

Entrance fee: 5 RMB. Passport required

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Paleozoological Museum of China

One of the largest museums of its kind in Asia, the Paleozoologial Museums has an engaging collection of fossils, ancient life forms and human remains. One part of the museum is open to visitors and the other used for research purposes. With a large display of fossils from now-extinct animals, the museum also explores the origin of humans and contains information on the Peking Man, an example of the ‘upright man’.

14 Xizhimen Outer Street, Xicheng, Beijing, China +86 10 8836 9280

Opening hours: 9:00am-4:30pm. Closed on Mondays.

Entrance fee: 20 RMB.