Rediscovering the Past: A Guide to Wuhan’s Museums

Rediscovering the Past: A Guide to Wuhan’s Museums

No trip to any country is complete without stepping inside a museum. Visiting one is always a great adventure. You’ve got the crowds, the kids with their face pressed against the glass, the relics, and of course the self-discovery. To imagine, within each display case and behind every window is a fragment of human evolution and a glorious splendor of yesteryear.

Wuhan is home to nearly a dozen different museums with a wide variety of focus such as art, warfare and even Chinese erotica. It is my suggestion for future visitors who want to hit the Wuhan museum circuit to do their research, because there are a lot of sights and places to explore. It’s easy to get lost in this smorgasbord of museums, so read on to find out the best museums Wuhan has to offer —and no; the erotica museum is not included! In the article I will focus on the Hubei Provincial Museum (the largest museum in the province), the National Stone Museum, and the 1911 Revolution Museum.    

1) Hubei Provincial Museum  湖北省博物馆 View In Map

The Hubei Provincial Museum, located in the Wuchang District of Wuhan near the beautiful East Lake, is the only provincial museum in the province. Since it was established in 1953, it has gone through considerable changes, updates and complete makeovers. At present it has over 200,000 relics on display, and allows visitors to see things like jade, bronze vessels, ancient weapons, pottery, porcelain and ancient musical instruments.

The museum is divided into three parts: the Chime Bell Exhibition Hall, the Chu Culture Exhibition (Spring and Autumn Period 770 BC – 476 BC), and the Comprehensive Exhibition building. Those of you who don’t have the time or money to visit Xi’an can see some of its famous terracotta warriors in the Comprehensive building and also mummified horses, carriages and models of what the Chinese landscape looked like several hundred years ago. 

But the part I believe most travellers will enjoy is the Chime Ball Exhibition Hall. Here you can see an impressive array of artifacts taken from the Yi tomb, which is dated to the highly romanticised era of the Warring States Period (476 BC – 221 BC). One of the most incredible relics on display is a set of bronze bells. These things are colossal and are beautiful crafted and preserved. When you see them you can’t help but be blown away by their splendor.

Something very cool is that visitors can actually hear these being played in the performance hall. Every 15 minutes the museum puts on a demonstration using these and other classical instruments—giving visitors a real Bronze Age-style concert. If you want to see this, however, you should get to the hall early and be ready to fight for tickets (20 RMB). Last time I was there, my jaw was introduced to a lovely gray haired woman’s elbow when we scrambled for the last two tickets. So again, get their early. The museum will announce over the PA system when the next show will take place so keep your ears open and you should be able to get in without loosing any teeth.

Add: 156 Donghu Lu, Wuchang District, Wuhan
地址: 武汉市武昌区东湖路188号
Tel: 027 8679 4127
Price: Free, chime bell performance 20 RMB
Opening hours: Tues-Sun, 09:00-17:00; Closed on Mondays
Getting there: Take bus 14, 108, 402, 411, 552, 578, 701, 709 and get off at Sheng Bo Wu Guan (Provincial Museum); Take bus 605, 709, 712 and get off at Huangli Road Station (opposite the Hubei Daily )

2) The National Stone Museum 中华奇石馆 View In Map
If you’ve already been to the Hubei Provincial museum and want to see something different, then you should visit the National Stone Museum, located in Cuiwei Lu, Hanyang District. The National Stone Museum was established in 1993, and since then has received a lot of attention and praise. Travelling across the city fighting traffic on a overcrowded bus just to look at stones might seem pointless to some, but let me assure you it is well worth the effort.

There are over 1,300 stones that come from all over China (even one from Malaysia). The National Stone Museum displays the most popular kinds of stones such as Taihu, Lingbi, Yuha and the Yingde. For most of us foreigners we couldn’t tell the difference between a Yuha and a Yeehaw, but these things are stunning to behold. The National Stone Museum also has the third largest crystal in China on display and if you are not impressed when you see it you might want to check your pulse.

The National Stone Museum also has plenty of cool fossils on display. There also are some commemorative stones, which hold some importance to historical events. Some of these have English explanations, while others don’t so you might have to simply admire the view (which is pretty easy to do). Another hall at the museum holds stones that formed into shapes representing animals and people.

Again, for a foreigner the idea of visiting a museum just to see stones might seem strange, but the art of collecting stones and admiring their beauty is a well respected tradition in China dating back to the Jin, Tang and Song dynasties—which means it’s nearly a thousand years old. In addition to visiting the National Stone Museum, tourists can see the largest Buddhist temple in Wuhan, the Guiyaun Temple (which also houses some 500 Buddhist statues) just across the street.  

Add: 61 Cuiwei Lu, Hanyang District, Wuhan
地址: 武汉市汉阳区翠微路61号
Tel: 027 8476 7057, 027 8484 5919 
Price: 10 RMB
Opening hours: 09:00-17:00
Getting there: Take bus 401, 580 to Guiyuan Temple.

3) The 1911 Revolution Museum  辛亥革命博物馆 View In Map
Another interesting museum to visit is one of the newest in Wuhan. A quick Google check on the 1911 Revolution Museum will show it as under construction, when in fact it’s finished and opened for business. In addition, with it being the 90th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), why not spend a day learning more about the importance Wuhan played in the development and establishment of modern China. 

The 1911 Revolution Museum is divided into the Wuchang Peasants Movement Institute, Mao Zedong’s residence, the Chen Tanqiu Memorial Hall, Uprising Gate, and the venue of the CCP 5th National Conference. Two of these (Mao and the Peasant Movement Institute) are protected by the state and considered major historical relics in the Wuhan region. No matter what your views are concerning the CCP, imagine how much fun you will have showing pictures to your friends of Mao’s bedroom and telling them how you visited one of the 100 classical Red Tour scenic spots in China. I bet you anything, your friends will be green with envy.

The 1911 Revolution Museum has English explanations for all major displays, allowing visitors to learn the importance of Wuhan and how the CCP developed. The museum is well organised and offers a rare glimpse into modern Chinese history. Any history nut should take it in.

Add: 1 Wulou Lu, Wuchang District, Wuhan
地址: 武汉市武昌区武珞路1号
Tel: 027 8887 5306
Price: Free
Opening hours: 09:00-17:00

So in conclusion, Wuhan actually has a lot more to offer the traveller than hot dry noodles, unbearable summer heat and overcrowded buses. It has history, charm and some unbelievable museums. The next time you’re in Wuhan and feel the urge to do something besides sweat, try visiting a museum. You won’t be disappointed. 

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Keywords: Museums in Wuhan history in Wuhan Great Hubei Museums 1911 Revolution Wuhan


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