Reopened in 2011 after a $400 million, decade-long renovation, this massive museum showcases China's long history and its rise to power. With more than 2 million sq. ft. of space, there's ample room to impress visitors with an exhaustive collection of a million cultural relics from China's oft-repeated "5,000 years of history." The austere exterior was built in 1959, but the interiors have gotten a modern makeover with state-of the-art exhibition space. Rivaling the Louvre Museum in size, it's impossible to see everything here in one visit. Worth a look is the enormous Ancient China exhibit on the lower level, which covers in detail the Paleolithic era through to the Ming and Qing dynasties. The displays all have English and Chinese text. There are gorgeous displays of bronze, jade, and ceramics. On the upper floors, antique Buddha sculptures made of wood, bronze, and porcelain from China and neighboring India and Pakistan are also noteworthy. Less satisfying are the propaganda-laden sections on contemporary Chinese history, which barely mention the ruinous Great Leap Forward or the tumultuous years of the Cultural Revolution. Still, it would be easy to spend a full day here.
- Tini Tran