Beijing's best history museums

The city's best museums for history buffs

Museums can be about many things – culture, science, machinery, tap water – you name it. The biggest and the best, however, are often dedicated to history, something that China sure has a lot of.

National Museum of China (中国国家博物馆)

Cramming the oft-quoted ‘5,000 years of Chinese history’ under one roof is a tough task, but this remarkable museum on the eastern edge of Tiananmen Square does a fine job of it. With nearly 200,000sqm of exhibition space, it’s the third largest in the world and the permanent home to over one ...

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16 Dong Chang’anjie (Tiananmen, Dongcheng)

Capital Museum (首都博物馆)

The Capital Museum tells the story of Beijing from when it was a few mere rice paddies right up until the founding of the People’s Republic, and tells it well. The chronological order of the artefacts on the first floor – laid out in a huge timeline – helps visitors understand the narrative of ...

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16 Fuxingmenwai Dajie (Fengtai)Free

Chinese Museum of Women & Children (中国妇女儿童博物馆)

Tucked away on the north side of Chang’an Avenue, the scale and style of this building are belied by its relatively discrete location. Six floors of modern, Zaha Hadid-esque curves cover a total of 35,000sqm of all things matriarchal. There’s a rewarding mix here of history and art – the ...

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9 Beijige Lu (Miyun county)

Beijing Ancient Architecture Museum (北京古代建筑博物馆)

A restored Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) temple is the location of Beijing’s first architecture museum. The outdoor exhibits and picturesque grounds make it feel more like touring a section of the Summer Palace than a stuffy museum. The indoor exhibitions give highly specific details on ancient ...

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21 Dongjing Jie (Fengtai)

Overseas Chinese History Museum of China (中国华侨历史博物馆)

This spankingly well-kept museum traces the long history of Chinese emigration, from the good old BC days, the Silk Road times, through the latter dynasties, the Opium Wars, the coolie trade and beyond: it’s comprehensive, and almost overwhelmingly so. Through exhibits as wide-ranging as old ...

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22 Dongzhimen Bei Xiaojie

Zhoukoudian Peking Man Site (周口店北京猿人遗址)

Zhoukoudian, better known as the site of Peking Man – one of the first specimens of homo erectus – is one of the most important palaeontological sites in the world, and one of Beijing's seven Unesco World Heritage sites. All of the human remains in the museum are replicas (the originals vanished ...

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1 Zhoukoudian Dajie (Huairou)

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