The Tibet Museum, located at the southeast corner of Norbulingka, Lhasa, is the first modern museum in Tibet and is the center for people to understand the Tibetan history and culture. Together with its neighboring Norbulingka Park, the Tibet Museum has become one of the most beautiful places in the ancient city of Lhasa.
The Tibet Museum covers an area of 53,959 square meters and has a floor space of 23,508 square meters including an exhibition area of 10,451 square meters. The museum is a perfect combination of Tibetan culture and modern architectural art. The three-storey building is designed in Tibetan architectural style with Tibetan doors, beam-decoration, and patterns, creating an atmosphere of authentic Tibetan art. Upon entering the hall, your attention will immediately be caught by the colorfully ornamented beams, pillars, lintels, banners and wall hangings. The museum also reflects a salient feature of modern architectural art.
Tibet Museum houses a rich collection of cultural relics including various kinds of cultural relics of prehistory, Buddha statues in different postures, handwritten Tibetan classics, colorful Thangka pictures, music and ritual instruments, imperial jade seals, and gold albums. You can also see various folk arts such as unique Tibetan handicrafts, costumes, jewelry, and adornments made of gold, silver, and jade, as well as fine Chinese pottery.
The museum is divided into two main parts: the exhibition area and storage area. As the ground floor is reserved for souvenir sales and temporary exhibitions, the second floor is designed and set for the permanent historical and cultural exhibitions. The “Exhibition of Tibetan History and Culture” is a major part of the Museum, which include pre-history culture, indivisible history, culture and arts, and folk customs. From the exhibitions, you can see the long-standing history and profound culture and art of Tibet.
Covering a period that stretches back 50,000 years to 3,000 years, the “Prehistory” Section expresses the life of the ancient people of the Tibetan plateau, with a large number of characteristic stone tools, pottery, bone objects and metal objects.
(Double-Body Pottery Jar, excavated from the Karuo Ruins of Chamdo, is regarded as the key highlight of the collections at the Tibet Museum.)
The “Indivisible History” Hall includes material on different dynastic periods of Tibetan history, including Tibetan regional powers. A large number of historically valuable objects and cultural relics are displayed, including seals, books, official documents, and so on.
(Among items displayed in the Tibet Museum, a letter from Chairman Mao Zedong to the 14th Dalai Lama on April 10, 1954 would be very interesting, as few people have seen or even known such a correspondence.)
The Hall of Tibetan Culture and Arts includes the development of Tibetan-script books, documents and scrolls, the arts of Tibetan theater, Tibetan musical instruments, Tibetan medicine, Tibetan astronomy and calendar reckoning, Tibetan sculpture, and Thangka or painting arts, depicting an artistic and cultural overview of the last thousand years of Tibetan arts. Some of these treasures are unique and being shown to the world for the first time.
The Hall of Folk Customs explores the life style of the Tibetan people. It includes displays of Tibetan people’s costumes, items of daily life, arts and handicrafts, and means of communication, showing how Tibetan people dressed, what they ate, how they lived, their marriage and funeral customs from a variety of perspectives.
Outside the exhibition hall are green lawns and shadowy trees. Also there are a performance area for modern cultural and physical activities, a garden of local customs and folk culture and manor houses. In addition, the museum has a cultural gallery, handicraft shop and other service facilities. It is a good place for people to relax while visiting the exhibition.
Tibet Museum is a must-see when traveling in Lhasa. The museum, closed on Monday, is now open to the public for free. The museum also provides audio guide service.