The best museums in Dongcheng

The best houses of history and culture in central Beijing

Home to more just bars and restaurants, Dongcheng is also brimming with museums, including some of Beijing's most weird and wonderful.

Beijing Waterworks Museum (北京自来水博物馆)

Moisture is the essence of water, and water is the essence of one of Beijing’s most offbeat museum experiences. Formerly known, nay, famed as the Beijing Museum of Tap Water (in a city not exactly famed for the stuff), this place has in recent years moved home and upgraded, to become the more ...

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3 Xiangheyuan Jie (Miyun county)

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

Songtang Carvings Museum (松堂斋民间雕刻博物馆)

The Songtang Museum is the life’s work of one Li Songtang, a Cultural Revolution survivor who, since returning to Beijing after a punitive decade working the land, has dedicated himself to salvaging remnants of buildings from construction sites – protecting pieces of the city’s architectural ...

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3 Guozijian Jie (Miyun county)

Shijia Hutong Museum (史家胡同博物馆)

Beijing’s hutongs have continually evolved (and at worst disappeared) in face of the city’s rapid and unrelenting growth, though this museum, halfway down the eponymous tree-lined alley, documents the ways of hutong living back in the good old days. Exhibits including a mockup family home ...

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24 Shijia Hutong (Miyun county)

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)

China National Post and Postage Stamp Museum (中国邮政邮票博物馆)

The temporary nature of its stamp exhibitions mean that budding philatelist may be left a little wanting at the collection here, but for postal history enthusiasts, it’s jackpot time: from explanations of early forms of distance communication, to scale models of primitive, camel-based kuaidi ...

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6 Gongyuan Xi Jie (Dongcheng, Dongcheng)

Marbury's Home (马布里之家)

Foreign sports stars have poured into China over the last decade, but few have known the admiration, accolades, statues, permanent residency, range of commemorative stamps, dedicated museum, loosely biographical musical and then feature film that former NBA star Stephon Marbury can now boast....

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18 Jianguomen Dajie (Miyun county)Free

China Court Museum (中国法院博物馆)

In what might be some of Beijing’s most text-heavy exhibits, this museum details every aspect of China’s legal system, from its dealings with corruption and counterfeiting to murder and the pettiest of crimes. It’s an ode to dense paperwork and the small print, though the Xi Jinping footage ...

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4 Zhengyi Lu (Tiananmen, Dongcheng)

Beijing Police Museum (北京警察博物馆)

Nothing to do with Sting, this is actually a masterclass in subtle agitprop, full of pictures of smiling coppers saving lives. The museum gives a full history of the city’s police from the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) to the present day, using old uniforms, official papers and so on. Some ...

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36 Dongjiaomin Xiang (Miyun county)

Poly Art Museum (保利艺术博物馆)

In a wholly unexpected location – on the ninth floor of a modern office block – this display of ancient art is a real find, whether you’re a Chinese bronze aficionado or just searching for some peace. The museum is small and quiet but packed with treasures, and most days you’ll have the dimly ...

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1 Chaoyangmen Bei Dajie (Changping)

Beijing Folk Custom Museum (北京民俗博物馆)

The Beijing Folk Custom Museum unobtrusively surrounds the main courtyard of the Daoist Dongyue Temple. Walk along the walls for wax displays of Taoist customs regarding earthly conduct and the netherworld (be warned: punishments for evildoers can be a little graphic). Make your way through ...

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141 Chaoyangmenwai Dajie

Beijing Museum of Natural History (北京自然博物馆)

If taxidermy isn’t for you, then the Beijing Museum of Natural History probably isn’t either. The museum’s biggest sell may be its many dinosaur fossils – from a partial fossil of a woolly mammoth to a wholly intact fossil of a long-necked, diplodocus-like paracerathrium – but the rest of the ...

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126 Tianqiao Nan Dajie (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)

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