New face of nation's iconic museum

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The newly renovated National Museum of China is about to become a major new destination for visitors to the Chinese capital, says museum dean Lu Zhangshen.

After being closed for three years, the museum will re-open on April 1, with two permanent exhibitions - Ancient China and The Road to Rejuvenation - that present China's ancient, pre-modern and contemporary history.

The official opening will see a large-scale show entitled The Art of the Enlightenment, presented in collaboration with three major German museums.

Featuring more than 450 exhibits, the show will cover 2,700 square meters.

The newly renovated National Museum of China will be opened to the public soon. Jiang Dong / China Daily

With masterpieces by Friedrich, Fussli, Gainsborough, Watteau, Piranesi and Goya included, the show will "present the full spectrum of the art of the Enlightenment", organizers say.

By the end of August, two thirds of the museum's exhibiting space will be used, Lu says.

The museum complex, originally occupied by the Museum of Chinese History and the Museum of Chinese Revolution on the eastern side of Tian'anmen Square in Beijing, was first opened to the public in 1959.

The National Museum of China was established on Feb 28, 2003, following the merger of the Museum of Chinese History and the Museum of Chinese Revolution.

Renovations to the museum cost 2.5 billion yuan ($379 million) and it is said to be the world's largest national museum, with a floor space of nearly 200,000 sq m, and more than 1.05 million treasures in its permanent collection.

With 48 exhibition halls, each with a floor space of 2,000 sq m, the museum will hold various special exhibitions all-year round.

An exhibition hall will be dedicated to exhibiting selected treasures on loan from the nearby Palace Museum; another exhibition space will be dedicated to displaying cultural relics from each of the country's provinces, municipalities, and autonomous regions, each lasting for a year.

"We will provide visitors with wide-ranging services, including souvenir shops, bookstores, cinemas, theaters, education centers, and restaurants," Lu says.

To make it easier for visitors browsing the maze-like museum, which includes four floors above the ground and two floors underground, the museum will offer both hand-held audio guides, touch screens, mobile phone-based guides, with software to download and install for free, chief publicist Huang Chen says.

As the museum's collection is not allowed out of the museum, a 600-sq-m space has been designated for live broadcasting of TV programs about the exhibits, the first of its kind in the world.

Most exhibitions, including the permanent shows, will be free but certain special exhibitions, which are financially challenging to prepare, may require admission fees.

As the museum is designed to receive just 30,000 attendants per day, visitors need to make reservations through hotlines, mobile phone services, or the museum's website at

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