National Museum of China

The National Museum of China is the successor to the Museum of Chinese Revolution 中国革命博物馆 and the Museum of Chinese History 中国历史博物馆 at the eastern side of the Tiananmen Square. Both were housed in a monumental building opened in 1959 on the occasion of the tenth birthday of the People’s Republic of China. The central entrance hall was dedicated to the memory of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin and greeted the visitor with Mao Zedong’s famous saying “A single spark spark can start a prairie fire” (5 January 1930). In the southern part of the building the Museum of Chinese History–originally founded in 1926–presented precious works of art and archeological findings from all dynasties, including the Peking Man (Homo erectus pekinensis, see Schmalzer 2008) and the four great inventions (paper, compass, printing and gun powder). The Museum of Chinese Revolution narrates the history of the Chinese Communist Party, including the Anti-Japanese War and the war of liberation. It became a red site in 2005.

Picture 1: Museum of Chinese History in the year 1959

In the year 2003 both museums were merged to the National Museum of China directed by the Ministry of Culture of the PRC. After four years of extensive renovations it reopened on 17 March 2011 with 28 new exhibitions halls. Space for exhibition and storage had tripled, now having a total floor space of nearly 200,000 square meters.

Picture 2: National Museum of China in November 2016

Among the permanent exhibitions are Ancient China 古代中国 and The Road of Rejuvenation 复兴之路, with the latter detailing the history of China since the First Opium War and the contribution of the Communist Party to the so-called liberation of the country and the modernization successes since 1949 and 1978. On 3 July 2018 the latter one was supplemented by an exhibition celebrating the Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era as envisioned by Xi Jinping 习近平 (on the history and renovation of the museum see Varutti 2014).

Picture 3: 3D Model of the National Museum of China

List of Pictures

Picture 1: Museum of Chinese History in the year 1959 (1959年的中国历史博物馆) (Author =Unknown, image in public domain in China)

Picture 2: National Museum of China in November 2016 (cc Another Believer [CC BY-SA 4.0])

Picture 3: 3D Model of the National Museum of China (cc 三猎 [CC BY-SA 4.0])

Bibliography

Denton, Kirk A. (2014): Exhibiting the past: historical memory and the politics of museums in postsocialist China. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press.

Varutti, Maria (2014): Museums in China: The Politics of Representation after Mao. Suffolk, UK: Boydell Press.


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