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Introduction to Capital Museum

The Capital Museum, located in the Confucius Temple, was prepared in 1953 and formally opened in 1981.

As a major cultural construction project in Beijing in the “10th Five-Year Plan”, the new complex of the Capital Museum, approved by the Beijing Municipal Government in 1999, further approved by the State Council after being submitted by the National Development and Reform Commission in 2001, commenced its construction in December 2001.

The new Capital Museum had the trial operation in December 2005 and was officially opened on May 18th 2006. With its magnificent architecture, abundant exhibitions, advanced technology and complete functions, the Capital Museum contributes to Beijing’s standing as a famous historical and cultural city, a cultural centre and an international metropolis and ranks among the first class museums both at home and abroad and is regarded as one of the first “State First-class Museums” in 2008.

 

Classical Architecture

The architectural design concept of the museum is “ to take people and cultural heritage as the foremost and serve the society”, and underlines “the harmonious integration of past and present, history and modernism, art and nature”.

The construction of the museum itself is an architectural artwork integrating both classical and modern beauty. It is of distinct national characteristics on one hand and obvious modern feeling on the other. The massive roof inherits the design from the roof overhang of Chinese traditional architecture; the long stone curtain wall stands for the city wall in ancient China; the gradient of the square refers to the architectural style of dais construction in ancient time; a piece of Danbi (vermilion steps of stone leading up to a palace hall) is imbedded in the ground in front of the north gate of the Central Reception Hall; a decorative archway from Ming Dynasty is set in the hall, which shows the traditional Chinese architectural characteristic of “central axis in a plane”; the leaning and projecting wall of the bronze Oval Exhibition Hall implies unearthing of ancient relics.

Use of large quantity of bronze, timber and stone material presents an even deeper sense of historical profoundness. Stones used in the ground of the north square and the Reception Hall are all produced in Fangshan, where stones have constantly been supplied for construction of Beijing since ancient time. Elmwood, most commonly seen in Beijing, is adopted as external decoration material of the Rectangular Exhibition Hall; while bronze, decorated with designs of the bronze ware of Western Zhou Dynasty unearthed in Beijing, is used on the external facades of the Oval Exhibition Hall.

The steel structure canopy roof and glass curtain wall express the dynamic atmosphere of Beijing, while grand and transparent visual effect keeps according with the international fashion of modern architecture.

There are three independent constructions within the new complex. They are respectively the rectangular-hall section, the oval-hall section and the quadrate Office & Scientific Research building. Spaces between them are the Reception Hall and indoor bamboo courtyard. An environment of both human and natural sentiment is therefore created by adopting natural light, Chinese archway, sunken bamboo courtyard and rippling water.

The Capital Museum is highly praised by personalities from all walks of life both at home and abroad immediately upon completion.

 

Abundant Exhibitions

Exhibits displayed in the new Capital Museum are mainly past years’ collections and unearthed historical heritages of the Beijing area. Combining with the latest research results concerning the history, cultural heritages, archeology, and relevant subjects of Beijing, and using the successful experiences of other museums both at home and abroad for reference, the Capital Museum holds modern exhibitions featured by Beijing characteristics.

The compilation of the exhibition outline was started in 2000, the same year when the new Capital Museum began construction. The work, trying to show the latest results commonly recognized by academic circles in the exhibition, is guided by many academic authorities from institutions such as the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Peking University, and Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, etc. The goal of the museum is to adopt new design concepts to break traditional dull exhibition pattern and use modern exhibition technologies and methods to create a different exhibition style so as to give visitors the personal experience, make exhibitions more touchable, lively, and interactive and suit both refined and general tastes.

Exhibition of Capital Museum consists of three parts: permanent exhibitions, exhibitions of fine artistic works and temporary exhibitions.

Permanent exhibitions include “Ancient Capital Beijing— History and Culture” and “Old Stories of Beijing — Exhibition of Old Beijing Folk Customs”. The first one shows the splendid and glorious Beijing culture, which has constantly evolved and gradually formed its glorious development history. It is the brand exhibition of Capital Museum.

Exhibitions of fine works include “Exhibition of Selected Works of Ancient Ceramic Art”, “Exhibition of Selected Works of Bronze Art in the Beijing Area”, “Exhibition of Selected Works of Ancient Calligraphy”, “Exhibition of Selected Works of Ancient Paintings”, “Exhibition of Selected Works of Ancient Jade Art”, “Exhibition of Selected Works of Ancient Buddha Statues”, and “Exhibition of Selected Works of Ancient Stationary and other Study Utensils”. The seven exhibitions and “Old Stories of Beijing — Exhibition of Old Beijing Folk Customs” serve as supplements and expansion to present Beijing culture.

Totally 5,622 pieces of cultural relics are displayed.

The temporary exhibitions serve as a stage to study and appreciate the culture and art exchanges between Beijing and the other regions, China and the world.

 

Advanced Technology

Collecting, exhibiting and researching are the major functions of the museums. The new Capital Museum fully adopts advanced technologies to be of top class of these three aspects in China.

Intelligent Projects — Intelligent temperature and humidity control air-conditioning system ensures comfortable temperature and humidity for the public and keep reasonable temperature and humidity within the showcases to protect cultural relics. Different temperature and humidity levels are provided according to different materials of cultural relics in the storehouse.

The safety technological precaution systems (including the management system and lighting system in the underground parking lot), fire supervision & control and automatic fire extinguishing system (including emergency alarm system), automatic system in buildings, sound and light linkage control system are all intelligent devices; particularly, special design has been made in the automatic fire extinguishing to prevent cultural relics from being damaged by water.

Digital Museum Project — The digital information project of the Capital Museum is a creative project in the national cultural heritage field. (1) Digital technology of a complete framework has been realized in the compilation and display of information resources of the museum. Digital technologies have been utilized in the management of the collected cultural heritages. (2) Digital technologies have been fully utilized as the supplement to the exhibitions. Visual multimedia effects such as multi-screen projecting, illusory imaging, visual reality images, and digital movies have been widely used where it is necessary to the exhibitions, to enhance the effectiveness of the exhibitions and to change the dullness of textbook-like exhibitions. (3) A comprehensive information platform based on the subsystems of each specialty of the museum is the first to be established in China to serve staff of internal departments and visitors (including visitors out of the museum).

There are 11 subsystems of digital specialties of the museum including information management system of culture heritages, background management system of multimedia display, website of Capital Museum etc.

Multimedia Display — In exhibitions and displays, multimedia means are widely used, for instance, multi-screen projecting, illusory imaging, visual reality images, digital movies etc., to enhance exhibition effect, deepen information convey of material exhibits. It thoroughly changes the dullness of textbook-like exhibitions.

Environment Protecting & Energy Saving — Capital Museum is the first museum in China to use solar power energy. All decoration materials used in the museum and showcases are environment-friendly products which meet the national standards.

Restoration of Cultural Heritages — Complete sets of cultural heritages conservation and restoration equipment have been brought in to enhance the overall conservation and restoration level by taking advantage of high-tech methods so as to make the Capital Museum a base for cultural heritages protection and restoration in north China.

 

Complete Functions

Besides being positioned as a significant cultural facility, the new Capital Museum also serves to carry out cultural heritages protection and research, disseminate a patriotic spirit and historical and scientific knowledge to the public. Moreover, it is an important ceremony holding site and a public place for tourism and leisure as well.

Central Reception Hall With an area of 2,000 square meters and a height of 34 meters, integrating prominently both Chinese traditional cultural characteristics and modern sense, it is an ideal site for ceremony and cultural activities of large scale.

Exhibition Halls The independence of exhibition halls of different subjects facilitates the public to visit selectively and shorten visiting lines on one hand and is convenient for safety control on the other. With abundant space and adequate height, these exhibition halls are ideal for various exhibitions. The temporary exhibition halls with a total area of over 3,000 square meters are designed to offer a first-class platform for domestic and international culture and art exchanges. Exhibitions of rare and precious cultural relics can be guaranteed with the intelligent temperature and humidity control system and safety and fire-fighting systems.

Cultural Relic Storehouse With abundant space, reasonable space compartmentalization, advanced and perfect safety and fire-fighting facilities, it is one of the most advanced storehouses in the world. The hydraulic lift with ten-ton load capacity can transport cultural relics directly from ground to the underground storehouse, which is exclusive among domestic and foreign museums at present.

Multi-function Hall The hall is equipped with the most advanced technology in China, such as systems for multi-language simultaneous interpretation, digital movie playing and conference voting and special website for conference room, etc.

Digital Projection Booth An arc super wide visual screen is capable to display digital films of high definition and the displaying equipment is with the highest definition in China. The first film being shown here is “Glorious Beijing”. 3D digital films will be produced in the future.

 

Excellent Service

With complete and advanced equipments and facilities, the Capital Museum provides excellent service to the public.

Reception The Capital Museum has multi-language reception and consultation, luggage-storage counters, public watering place, chairs for rest, parking lots for motor and non-motor vehicles. Elevator for the disabled, wheelchairs, infant-nursing room, and baby carriages etc. are available.

Tour Guide and Interpretation The museum provides the public with free multi-language view guide maps, exhibition introduction in Chinese and English, multi-language explanation and special expert explanation, touch screen consulting computers, multi-language intelligent audio tour guide and multi-language personal digital assistants (PDA) tour guide, etc.

Giant Screens in the Central Reception Hall The museum has adopted a full-color giant screen of the highest definition in the world to display introductions to permanent exhibitions, temporary exhibitions and digital films of historical scenery spots in Beijing, and a dual color screen to display information on exhibitions and services in written form.

Educational and Interactive Service Theme speeches, activities for children, practical experiencing programs and interactive multimedia programs are available all year round in the museum.

Leisure Service Facilities such as restaurant, cafe, teahouse, souvenir shop, bookshop, ATM, postbox and public telephones are available.

As a modern general museum, the Capital Museum will make more and more contributions to enriching people’s spiritual life, enhancing cultural exchanges with foreign countries and speeding the socialistic cultural building of Beijing.