Walking around Tian’man square, with all the recent history we read about in the west is a slightly surreal experience. With the Forbidden City there on plain view, you are in the heart of what was ancient China.
Off to one side is a sign of modern China, although focusing on the old. I love museums, wherever I go in the world I try and visit at least one, and Beijing was to be no different.
The National Museum is a behemoth of a building, a vast megalith set back from the square, but in no way dwarfed by anything. I’d read and been told beforehand that its advisable to leave a full day for the museum, and I’d taken that with a large pinch of salt. Having visited it for myself, I would advise a full day for the tour, it really is that big.
You get an idea of scale as you arrive into the main lobby, but the real impression is only gained when up on the second floor.
To get the idea I took this pic,
Then zoomed out,
Then zoomed out some more.
A country as vast and as old as China would logically have a big museum to cram all of their history into. I wasn’t disappointed. Its a standard museum layout, many different rooms, each one with a different theme and even though I spent best part of a full day there, I’m not sure I saw it all.
There are some stunningly beautiful pieces here, some that defy description with mere words. Pieces from all over the country, often well over a thousand years old.
Most museums I’ve been to around the world have an overt sense of silence, but here the Chinese seem to have no such inherent boundaries, and there was much laughing and shouting and screaming, which although incongruous to me, was nonetheless enjoyable.
The money room fascinated me, a history of Chinese money, similar to the one in the British museum and really enjoyed it.
Who knew that fans were used as currency once upon a time? Certainly not me.
There are a couple of small café type places, overpriced as always, but certainly useful for some.
There is a room solely dedicated to gifts given to the Chinese leaders by various visiting dignitaries from around the world. Its absolutely staggering, truly a sight to see.
A full day in Beijing to see a wonderful museum is an absolute must if you’re in the city.
My favourite piece is this. I’m just gutted that I didn’t get the full photo to come out properly.
What a place, if you like museums and ever get the chance, go, you won’t be disappointed.