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The Military Museum: A Portal into an Illustrious Past

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The Military Museum: A Portal into an Illustrious Past
Photo: flickr.com

The Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution is the only military museum of its type in China. It pays tribute to the fallen heroes from the People's Revolution and the Sino-Japanese Wars, as well as honouring the Chinese military heritage. It is also an eclectic mix of cultural artefacts and relics from museums throughout China, which showcases the richness and diversity found in China’s long, tumultuous history.

Overview of the Museum

The Military Museum is easy to find and free to get into—visitors only require a valid ID in order to obtain a same-day entry pass. Admission fees here and in many other museums were abolished on March 1st, 2008, as the Government has placed emphasis on encouraging high culture amongst the public. Organised group passes can be booked in advance. Visitors are subsequently required to go through a routine security check before entering the Museum, and belongings can be left at the "left baggage office", which is adjacent to the security check area. Tour guides can be requested from the information desk at a cost of 50 RMB per hour. The Information desk is located on the east side of the First Floor.

The museum has three main floors. Unfortunately, many of the exhibits have not been translated into English, which leaves many non-Chinese speakers unable to fully appreciate them. In the foyer you are greeted by a giant marble statue of Mao Zedong, the grandeur of which signifies him as a dominant figure in Chinese Military history. His central personality and legacy continue to permeate throughout the museum exhibitions, including photographs of him writing his essays, and the oil lamp he used during the Jinggang Mountain struggle.

The collections

 The Military Museum: A Portal into an Illustrious Past
Photo: flickr.com

The first floor contains tanks, satellites, planes and F-5 Fighters, and primarily focuses on the Second Revolutionary War (1927-37). The exhibition is fairly evenly divided between Chinese weaponry and imported weaponry. The large contingent of Russian weaponry on display is evidence of the lengths the Soviet Union went to, in order to support the Communists. The Nationalists were aided largely by US weaponry, due to America’s new land lease policy. The outdoor exhibit on the first floor features torpedo boats and numerous large aircrafts, which showcase the amazing rate of technological advancement during the past 100 years.

The Dong Fang Hong, on prominent display in the main hall of the first floor, was China’s first space satellite, launched on April 20th, 1970. This made China the 5th nation, after the USA, Soviet Union, France, and Japan to independently launch a satellite. Dong Fang Hong is also the name of the full-scale space satellite programme of the People’s Republic of China, which has continued into the 21st century, and has to date manufactured 55 additional satellites, even beginning to attract international satellite contracts from nations such as Nigeria.

The second floor showcases Chinese gallantry and military might during the War of Resistance against Japan (1937-45) containing more torpedoes, anchor mines, anti-aircraft guns, rocket projectiles and sculptures of famous generals. Another perennial theme throughout the exhibits is the parading of weapons that were captured from enemy Kuomintang combatants during the revolutionary war. The busts of generals and other famous personalities are courtesy of Cheng Yunxian, the famed Chinese realist sculptor who made a large contribution to the development of the museum.

The third floor contains mainly images, colour photos, military replicas and videos. This floor mobilizes a vast reservoir of visual imagery in order to transport visitors into China’s rich and glorious military history. Visitors are left with an acute sense of the significant role that the prestige and glorification of uniformed officers holds in China’s national memory. There is also a souvenir store on the second floor balcony; prices for toys, replicas and commemorative Chinese military medallions start at 30 RMB.

Conclusion

The fact that most of the exhibits are in Chinese and not translated into English makes large parts of the Military Museum somewhat inaccessible for a newcomer to China. For foreign visitors, this becomes an exceedingly big omission, giving the sense that the Military Museum is geared merely towards Chinese national nostalgia, rather than education and understanding for all. However, this shouldn’t spoil what is otherwise a grand showcase of national pride, history and militaristic ingenuity. A deeper insight into the past successes and heartaches of the Chinese people undoubtedly enables one to be able to appreciate the sense of destiny with which many people anticipate and celebrate China’s emergence as a pre-eminent global superpower.

Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution 中国人民革命军事博物馆View In Map

Add: 9 Fuxing Lu, Haidian District, Beijing

地址:北京市海淀区复兴路9号

Opening hours: 08:30 to 17:30

Getting there: take Subway Line 1 and get off at Military Museum Station (军博站). Bus No. 1, 4.

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Keywords: Chinese Military Museum of the People’s Revolution Mao Zedong museum Dong Fang Hong satellite museum Beijing museums

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