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Arts & Museums
Huang Shi Cheng is a historic building built in 1534 during the prosperous Ming Dynasty. The building is presently a treasure trove of historic displays belonging to the Ming and Qing dynasty. This Chinese royal archive building is beautifully protected till this day and age. The art gallery is surrounded by red high walls and consists of a main hall, east and west side hall and a imperial pavilion. Care has been taken to make the interiors fire and moisture proof. Also named Biao Zhang Ku it is China's oldest national archive.
Huang Shi Cheng, the national archives of ancient China, stores all of the imperial documents remaining from the Ming Dynasty and the Qing Dynasty. The main building stands atop a two-meter high foundation designed to prevent fire, water, and bugs from reaching the manuscripts. Inside the hall, a large platform made of white marble occupies virtually the entire room. There are 152 wooden shelves on the platform holding the historical archives.
Just minutes away from the Forbidden City, the Yun Fung Art Gallery is located in buildings that once housed China's imperial archives. These are now used to showcase the works of contemporary Chinese artists, with long-term displays by contract artists and regular special exhibitions, both domestic and foreign. There is usually an interesting mix of traditional and modern styles and media. All works are for sale, but for those with a limited budget a small shop sells prints of the more popular works on display.
Located on the eastern side of Tiananmen Square, this large museum displays the long history of China's civilization. Contained within are more than 400,000 cultural relics, the oldest of which date back to over 1.7 million years ago. There is a Marxist twist to the layout, with divisions into primitive society, slavery, feudalism, capitalism and imperialism eras. Opened to the public since 1959, the institution also leads archaeological research around the country.
The Beijing Center for the Arts is a three level art gallery located in Legation Quarter. BCA provides a contemporary art environment in the form of exhibitions, theater programs, lectures and also occasional musical performances. The center houses a multipurpose theater, a book store cafe where you can get your hands on books based on art and literature. The rooftop lounge area at the center provides a light lunch and dinner menu with drinks like wine, coffee or tea to go with the food. Located in cultural capital of China, this art center is sure to provides a unique art related experience.
Lao She (1899-1966) was a famous writer, artist and a great master of the Chinese language. He studied and worked in London and the United States. He returned to China in 1949 when the People's Republic of China was founded. His works were strongly influenced by his life in Beijing. The former residence of Lao She is a traditional si he yuan (quadrangle home with two courtyards). It was here that he wrote 23 works. In the courtyard, there are three exhibition rooms, where books, photos, and manuscripts by Lao She are on display.
When you go shopping in the Qian Men commercial area, two majestic towers greet your eyes. They are the Gate of True Sun and Arrow Tower, dubbed as Qian Men (front gate), which stand on the south side of Tiananmen Square. Originally built in 1419, the gate was the south entrance of the Beijing inner city during the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911). It is the largest well-preserved city gate in Beijing. The gate has become a museum of local customs, and visitors can see Beijing's old city wall, streets, markets and houses through historical photos and relics.
The largest museum in China, the Palace Museum was the home of 24 different emperors and resides at the center of Beijing and the Forbidden city. With 70 halls and 9,000 rooms you will never feel that there is not enough to look at. This is truly a trip through history, and is a must see if you are visiting Beijing. Check out their website for an extensive virtual tour of their pieces which range from calligraphy to furniture. This may help you find out which parts of this huge museum you would most like to spend your time in as you certainly can't cover it all.
The Beijing International Art Palace Gallery specializes in modern Chinese paintings and photography. The exhibitions vary from month to month so telephone ahead to find out what is on at present. A permanent variety of traditional Chinese paintings and calligraphy is also exhibited and most pieces can be purchased. For more information, ask at the gallery's front desk located near the entrance.
The Beijing Post Museum was opened to commemorate 100 years of the Beijing post. The design of the building has a distinct Qing Dynasty feel to it. Exhibits include showing how the postal workers struggled under foreign rule and the development of the post offices in Beijing. Found here is a the collection of historical data, pictures, artifacts and other materials. The Beijing Post Museum has also a functional branch bureau handling letters, parcels, newspapers and philatelic business.
Sino-US House Artworks, as the name suggests, collaborates the best of fusion art-work between Chinese and American artists. The works on show are all up for grabs. One of many fine art galleries in the city, the works are up amongst the best fighting off stiff competition from its peers. The acrylics on canvas are such that each make a case to adorn the walls at houses and be a good addition to any esteemed collection.
Built during the early 1950s, this main hall of the China National Museum of Fine Arts was a Communist monolith, displaying Red Guard-influenced pieces. Now, it holds temporary and permanent exhibitions of modern Chinese painting, calligraphy, prints and sculpture. Recently, foreign artists have been invited to hold exhibitions of their work. A well-stocked print and art supplies shop is located within the gallery.