The Museum of Chinese History and the Museum of Chinese Revolution share a single building complex, which runs more than 300 meters north and south along the eastern side of Tian’anmen Square. The four-story main building with its two symmetrical wings was built in 1959 as part of the project to build 10 monumental buildings in Beijing.
The predecessor of the Museum of Chinese History is the Beijing History Museum built in 1912 and was opened to the public in October 1926. In August 1958, the Chinese government decided to establish a new national museum on the eastern side of Tian’anmen Square. The construction was completed in October 1959.
The Museum of Chinese History displays three main periods of Chinese history. The first, the Primitive Society, spans from 500,000BC to 4,000BC. The exhibits in the Slavery Society section cover the time from 2,100BC to 475BC and the Feudal Society exhibits focus on the period from 221BC to 1911AD.
Many of the items on display are national treasures and precious rarities. Examples include the famous fossil remains of Yuanmo Man and Beijing Man, the remarkable painted pottery and jade wares of the Neolithic Age, the Simuwu Rectangle Ding (a kind of vessel) of the Shang Dynasty (cast over 3, 000 years ago and weighing 832. 84kg -- the heaviest ancient bronze ware in the world), the Shang Dynasty square bronze Zun (wine vessel) decorated with four sheep heads and the large inscribed Western Zhou Dynasty (11th century BC - 771BC) bronze Pan (water container). Other exhibits include a gold-inlaid bronze tally in the shape of a tiger (this was used by Emperor Qinshihuang for military affairs), a Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD) jade burial suit sewn with gold thread, magnificent Tri-colored Glazed Pottery of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), world-renowned Song Dynasty (960-1279) ceramics, and a rare bronze human figure marked with acupuncture points. Such treasures as these depict the rich and disparate evolution of the Chinese civilization.
Since 1992, about 100 short-term exhibitions have been held in the National Museum of Chinese History. Exhibitors have included both international and domestic organizations, as well as private individuals. Exhibitions held in the Museum of Chinese History can be divided into those of a permanent nature, such as the present exhibition of the Comprehensive History of China, which begins with the period of primitive tribes and ends with the May 4th Movement in 1919; and those of a temporary nature, which include local history exhibitions and traveling exhibits from foreign museums.