Travel Through Time: Chengdu’s Top Museums

Travel Through Time: Chengdu’s Top Museums

Chengdu is a city seeped in history and culture. As a city with over 2,300 years history, that once was an important stopover on the Southern Silk Road and serves as a strategic base from which to enter Tibet, it is not surprising that some of the biggest collections of historic artifacts are housed in Chengdu. Below we introduce some of the top museums for learning about Chengdu’s fascinating history and culture.

Sichuan Provincial Museum 四川省博物馆
Currently the largest museum in southwestern China, Sichuan Provincial Museum displays the social history and culture of the region, from ancient prehistory through to modern times. Over 160,000 items are on display at the museum, with more than 200 listed in the national treasure list. There is a large collection of jade, ceramics, bronze weapons, porcelain, seals and stoneware as well as a display of revolutionary relics from the Red Army. One of the museum’s highlights is a stone-carved face found in Wushan County that stems from the Neolithic Age over 5000 years ago. Other important exhibits include a series of Chinese frescos and mosaics, recovered from Han Dynasty tombs in the area as well as bronze swords from the Warring States Period. Of tremendous significance also is the skull Ziying Man from 30,000 BC that is often compared to the more famous Peking Man remains, as it has both primitive and evolved features and thus provides valuable clues in the evolutionary chain. This museum is also the place to see paintings and artwork by famous artists from the Tang (618-907) and Song Dynasties (960-1279). This comprehensive museum is a must-go for anyone interested in Sichuan’s history.

Sichuan Provincial Museum 四川博物馆 View In Map
Add: 251 Huanhua Nanlu, Chengdu
地址: 成都市浣花南路251号
Tel: 028 85226723
Opening hours: 09:00-17:00 Mon-Sat (10:00-16:00 during festivals and holidays)
Getting there: Take Bus No. 309, 319, 901, 35, 47, 82, 301, 407 or 50 3to Songxian Qiao (送仙桥)

Sanxingdui Museum 三星堆博物馆View In Map
Though this museum is technically not in the city itself, but 40 km north of Chengdu, the extra effort to visit Sanxingdui Museum is definitely worth it. The archeological museum showcases precious cultural relics from the nearby Sanxingdui site, dating back to Neolithic times. Many of the artifacts on display are rare historical gems, never seen before and extremely influential across the globe. In 1986, two large Shang-period sacrificial pits were unearthed with more than one thousand gold, bronze, and jade objects. Besides being a ground breaking discovery for the mere worth of the items, more significantly the finds proved that Sanxingdui was the capital of the Shu Kingdom more than 3000 years ago. Though every item on display is priceless, one of the main highlights is the museum’s large bronze collection, highlights of which have been exhibited both inside and outside of China.

Add: Guanghan City, Sichuan
地址: 四川省广汉市
Tel: 028 838 550 0349/838 565 1526
Opening hours: Gallery One  08:30-18:00, Gallery Two  8:30-18:30
Price: 80 RMB (children under 1.2 m can enter free)
Getting there: Direct buses leave from Chengdu’s Xinnanmen Bus Station (新南门汽车站) to Sanxingdui (三星堆). Buses leave daily from 08:30 to 15:00.


Du Fu Cottage杜甫草堂View In Map
Dedicated to Du Fu (712-70 AD), a famous poet from the Tang Dynasty, the Du Fu Cottage is also a shrine to Chinese literature more generally. The original thatched cottage has long been destroyed and new temples built in its place to become what it is today – an area covering 24 hectares that includes a memorial hall, a reconstruction of the thatched cottage, the Hall of Great Poets and a garden. The site became a National Heritage site in 1961 and is one of the most famous historic attractions in Chengdu. The site is surrounded by teahouses and bamboo gardens making this one of the most pleasant sites to stroll around in.

Add: No. 38 Qinghua Lu. The cottage is situated off Yihuan Xi Lu in the west part of Chengdu
地址: 成都市青华路38号
Tel: 028 8731 9258
Website: (Chinese only)
Opening times: 07:30-19:00 (Summer), 08:00-18:00 (Winter)
Price: 60 RMB
Getting there: Take Bus No. 301, 82, 84, 35 or 17

Sichuan University Museum四川大学博物馆
Sichuan University Museum is the first museum within a college and university campus in China. The museum was founded in 1914 and currently houses over 40,000 cultural relics. The collections on show are extremely diverse, from costumes and artifacts from minorities in Sichuan Province to sculptures, paintings, calligraphic works and artworks from the past dynasties. The museum also boasts an exhibition hall dedicated to Tibetan arts, an exhibition hall of revolutionary relics and an exhibition hall of sculptures.

Sichuan University Museum 四川大学博物馆 View In Map
Add: Sichuan University, 19 Wangjiang Lu, Wuhou District, Chengdu
地址: 成都市武侯区望江路19号
Tel: 028 8541 2451
Opening hours: 09:00-17:00 (closed for eight days during Spring Festival), the museum closes at 16:30 on Fridays
Admission: 30 RMB, 10 RMB students

There’s good news for history fans: while the above mentioned museums are more than adequate in learning about the region’s longstanding history and vibrant culture, construction has begun in Chengdu on the biggest museum in southwest China. Once the museum will open (in approximately 2012), it will feature more than 200,000 cultural relics over an area of 65,000 square metres (see article here). But for now, there’s certainly no shortage of interesting things to do and see in Chengdu. 

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