Henan Museum: One of the Oldest Museums in China

Henan Museum or Henan Provincial Museum, located in Zhengzhou, is a newly-built modern history and art museum. It is one of the oldest museums in China and is a center for collecting, protecting, researching and displaying cultural relics in central areas of China.

Henan Museum

Henan Museum was first built in 1927, with a history of over 80 years. The new Henan Museum, opened to the public in 1998, occupies an area over 100,000 square meters, with a floor area of 78,000 square meters. The new museum is designed with a combination of both traditional architecture and pathbreaking new technology, displaying primitive simplicity and elegance.

Being simple and imaginative in appearance, the magnificent main building which is at the center of the museum demonstrates a novel shape, like a pyramid. The exterior style of the museum came from the ancient astronomical observatory built in the Yuan Dynasty in Dengfeng City of Henan province. The complete map of the celestial sphere painted on the roof inside vestures the hall with an air of mystery especially when the sunbeam casting though the roof into the hall, giving people below an illusion of standing under a starry sky at nights. Behind the main building is a storeroom for culture relics, around it there are the electrified education building, combined service building, office building and training building.

The main building of Henan Museum

The museum houses more than 130,000 pieces of cultural relics, of which more than 5,000 pieces are treasures of the first and second grades. Prehistoric relics, bronze wares from Shang and Zhou Dynasties, delicate tomb antiques of the Han Dynasty, tri-colored glazed pottery (tangsaicai) of the Tang Dynasty and porcelains of the Song Dynasty all have their fancy masterpieces displayed here. They are of high academic and artistic values. One of the most precious is a square ewer with design of lotus and crane, a royal article from the Spring and Autumn period.

Henan Museum-Square ewer with design of lotus and crane

The exhibition halls of the museum mainly consist of basic exhibition halls, specialized exhibition halls and provisional exhibition halls. The Light of Ancient Culture of Henan is the most important large-scale basic exhibition here. It displays the historical and cultural relics discovered throughout Henan Province from prehistory to Ming and Qing dynasties, presenting that Henan is the cradle of China’s civilization. Walking along the show rooms, you can appreciate antiques with history of 2,000-3,000 years. The special exhibition halls feature special exhibitions of bronze vessels of the Shang and Zhou Dynasties, and pottery and porcelain wares of the various dynasties in Chinese history possess most distinguishing features, stone carvings and treasures of Ming and Qing dynasties. The museum also organizes regular exchange programs with foreign and domestic museums and some wonderful temporary exhibits can also be found here.

Henan Museum-Jade clothes sewn with gold wire

(Jade suit was the burial clothes of emperors and high-ranking nobles of the Han Dynasty. During the Han Dynasty burial clothes were made by tying jade pieces together with gold wire or silver wire or copper wire etc., according to the nobility rank of the dead. This suit is made up of 2,008 pieces of jade sewn together with gold wire.)

An Audio Tour Guide is available in Chinese, English and Japanese. A music show featuring mock ancient Chinese instruments thousands of years ago is on stage at the museum. It is interesting and worth a tour. Henan Museum will provide a great opportunity for you to grasp the basic understanding of China’s culture and history.

The night view of Henan Museum

ADD: No. 8 Nongye Road, Zhengzhou, Henan Province.

Admission: free

Opening Hours: 9:00—17:00 from Tuesday to Sunday. Closed on Monday except national holidays. No admittance after 16:00.

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