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Capital Museum

The former Capital Museum, which was located in the Confucius Temple, started its planning stage in 1953 and formally opened to the general public in 1981. As a major cultural construction project in Beijing in the 10th Five-Year Plan, the new Capital Museum, approved by Beijing Municipal Government in 1999, further approved by the State Council after being submitted by the National Development and Reform Commission in 2001, finally commenced its construction in December 2001.

Under the concern and guidance of Beijing Municipal Government, the museum finally makes its debut along the western extension of Changan Street, the very first street of China after four years of hard work. With its magnificent architecture, abundant exhibitions, advanced technology and complete functions, the large and modern Capital Museum, makes its contribution to the titles such as famous historical and cultural city, cultural center and the international metropolis of Beijing and ranks among the first class museums both in China and internationally.

Classical Architecture

The architectural design concept of the Capital Museum is based on human and cultural heritage to serve the community and underlines the harmonious integration of past and present, history and modernism, art and nature. The construction of the Capital Museum itself is a piece of 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 and the gradient of the entrance square inherits the design from the Chinese traditional architectural style, and the long stone curtain wall stands for the city wall in ancient China. A piece of Danbi (a piece of massive stone carved with images like dragon, phoenix or cloud for Gods to walk on) is embedded on the ground in front of the north gate of the museum, whereas a decorative archway from the Ming Dynasty is set in the receptional hall in which shows central axis feature in Chinese architechture. The oval-shaped Bronze Exhibition Hall implies the unearthing of ancient relics by its slanting design in which extends from the ground to the exterior of the museum.

Large quantity of bronze, timbers and stones used presents an even deeper sense of historical profoundness. Stones used in the ground of the north square and the grand hall are all produced in Fangshan, where stones have constantly been supplied for construction of Beijing since ancient time. Elms, the most commonly seen trees in Beijing, are adopted as external decoration materials of the Rectangular Exhibition Hall; while bronze, decorated with texture style of the bronzes of the Western Zhou Dynasty unearthed in Beijing, is used to decorate the external facades of the Circular Exhibition Hall.

The concept of the architectural design of the Capital Museum is based on human and cultural heritage to serve the community and underlines the harmonious integration of past and present, history and modernism, art and nature. The construction of the Capital Museum itself is a piece of architectural artwork integrating both classical and modern beauty. It is of distinct Chinese architectural characteristics on one hand and a clear modern feeling on the other.

The massive roof and the gradient at the entrance square inherits the design from the Chinese traditional architectural style, and the stone-made exterior wall symbolizes the city walls in ancient China. A piece of Danbi (a piece of massive stone carved with images like dragon, phoenix or cloud for Gods to walk on) is embedded on the ground in front of the north gate of the museum, whereas a decorative archway from the Ming Dynasty is set in the receptional hall in which shows the central axis feature which is commonly seen in Chinese architecture. The oval-shaped Bronze Exhibition Hall implies the unearthing of ancient relics by its slanting design in which extends from the ground to the exterior of the museum.

A large quantity of bronze, timber and stones are used in the museum to present a deeper sense of historical profoundness. Stones being used on the ground outside the north entrance and the reception hall are all produced in Fangshan, which is the place where stones have constantly supplied for the construction of ancient Beijing city. The external decoration materials of the square exhibition hall was decorated with elms, the most commonly seen trees in the capital. Bronze with a texture style from the Western Zhou Dynasty is used to decorate the external facades of the circular exhibition Hall. The steel structured canopy roof and glass curtain wall expresses the dynamic time pace of Beijing, while the grand and transparent visual effect keeps abreast with modern architecture.

There are three independent constructions within the new museum: the rectangular exhibition hall, the circular exhibition hall and the quadrate office and scientific research building. The open space in between are the central hall and indoor bamboo courtyard. An environment of both human and natural sentiment is created by adopting natural light, blended with the decorative Chinese-style archway, bamboo courtyard and rippling water.

Prolific Exhibitions

Articles exhibited in the Capital Museum are mainly past years collections and unearthed historical heritages of the Beijing area, combined with the latest research results concerning the history, cultural heritages, archeology and relevant subjects of Beijing. Modern exhibitions featured by Beijing characteristics are shaped successfully by studying the successful experiences from local and international museums.

The compilation of the exhibition outline was started in the millennium year, in which the construction works of the new Capital Museum initiated in the same year. Aiming to show the latest results commonly recognized by academic circles in the museums exhibitions, the outline 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 was to adopt new design concepts to break traditional dull exhibition patterns. Another goal is to introduce modern exhibition technologies and methods in order to create a different exhibition style so as to allow visitors to have an experiential visit process, as well as making the exhibitions more lively and interactive.

The positioning of the Capital Museum determines its exhibition items: permanent exhibitions, exhibitions of fine artistic collections and temporary exhibitions.

Permanent exhibitions include Ancient Capital: Chapter on the History and Culture of Beijing, Ancient Capital: Urban Construction and Stories of the Capital City - Old Beijing Folk-customs Exhibition. The permanent exhibitions shows the splendid and glorious culture of Beijing, which has constantly evolved and gradually formed its splendid development of the capital.

Exhibitions of fine artistic collection include Exhibition of Ming-Qing Classical Paintings, Selected works of Ancient Calligraphy, Selected works of Ancient Buddhist Statues, Selected works of Ancient Porcelain Art, Selected works of Bronze Art in the Beijing Area, Selected works of Ancient Jade Art and Selected works of Ancient Stationary and other Study Utensils. These exhibitions will allow visitors of the museum to deepen their understanding of the Chinese and Beijing culture. A total of 5,622 pieces of historical heritages are exhibited in all these exhibitions.

The temporary exhibitions serve as a stage to study and appreciate the exchange relations between cultures of Beijing and the other regions and that of China and the world.

State-of-the-art Technology

Collection, exhibition and research are the major functions of museums. The new Capital Museum fully refers to such and adopts advanced technologies of construction of museums around the world and is one of the leaders in China.

Temperature and humidity c ontrol: Intelligent temperature and humidity control air-conditioning system are installed in the exhibition halls to ensure a comfortable temperature and humidity in the halls for the public and keeps a suitable temperature and humidity within the exhibitions to protect cultural heritages; different temperatures and humidity levels are provided in accordance with different materials of cultural heritages in the depositary of the museum.

In-house building services systems: The safety precaution system, the fire supervision and control system, along with the automatic fire extinguishing system, sound and light linkage control system are all intelligent devices. For instance, special designs has been adopted in the automatic fire extinguishing system as means to prevent cultural heritages from being damaged by water.

Digitized information platforms: The digital information project of the Capital Museum is a creative project in the national cultural heritage field. Digital technologies have been utilized in the management of the collected cultural heritages and as supplements to exhibitions here in the museum. Visual multimedia effects such as multi-screen projection, visual reality images and digital movies have been widely used as means to enhance the effectiveness of the exhibitions. The comprehensive information platform of the museum is the first to be established in China to serve different departments and visitors of the museum.

Adoption of multimedia elements: In exhibitions and displays, multimedia means are widely used, for instance, multi-screen projecting (first adopted in international museums), illusory imaging, visual reality images, digital movies etc. The introduction of these multimedia elements aims to enhance the content of the exhibition itself, as well as to deepen the information to be conveyed by the exhibits.

Environmental protection and energy saving: Solar power panels and energy-saving lamps are installed in the museum as means to conserve electricity. Emergency Power Supply (EPS) systems are installed to provide a seamless power supply to the museum. All decoration materials used in the museum and exhibition counters are environmentally friendly products which meet national standards.

Restoration of historical relics: The museum is equipped with complete sets of historical relics conservation and restoration equipment as means to enhance the overall conservation and restoration level by taking advantage of the latest technology so as to make the Capital Museum the base for historical relics protection and restoration in northern China.

Myriad Functions

Being positioned as a significant cultural facility of China, the Capital Museum also serves to carry out protection and research of cultural heritages, and to disseminate a patriotic spirit and historical and scientific knowledge to the public,especially the youth in Beijing. Nonetheless, it is an important site for holding ceremonies and a public place for both tourism and leisure.

Reception Hall: With an area of 2,000m2 and a height of 34 metres, integrating prominently both Chinese cultural characteristics and modern sense, the hall itself is an ideal site for large-scale ritual or cultural activities.

Exhibition Halls: The independence of exhibition halls on different aspects facilitates the public to visit exhibitions on their own preference and choice. With abundant space and adequate height, the exhibition halls in the Capital Museum are idealistic for various exhibitions. The temporary exhibition hall with an area of over 3,000m2 is designed to offer an exhibition platform for top class domestic and international cultural and artistic parties. Exhibition of rare and precious cultural heritages in the exhibition halls can be guaranteed with the intelligent temperature and humidity control system, alongside with the safety and fire suppression systems.

Cultural Heritages Storehouse: The Capital Museum is well equipped with a spacious storehouse with reasonable compartmentation which is totally beneficial for the storage of cultural heritage. The cultural heritages are safeguarded by excellent safety and fire control facilties; a hydraulic lift of 10-ton load capacity allows the transportation of cultural heritages to be made in a seamless manner directly from the ground level to the storehouse, which is exclusive among both domestic and foreign museums at present.

Conference Hall: The hall is equipped with the most advanced technology in China, such as multi-language simultaneous interpretation systems, digital movie playing and conference voting systems etc. A special website hosting service is also readily available for users of the conference hall here at the Capital Museum.

Digital Movie Hall: An super-wide visual screen and video-playing equipment with the latest technology are installed in the digital movie hall to display digital films of high definition. The hall currently shows a 12-minute high-definition digital movie Splendid Beijing every hour to all visitors of the museum. 3D digital films will be produced in the future.