A Guide to Beijing's Free Museums(1)
2009-04-30 13:29:09 [ Big Normal Small ]     Comment

A museum is the ideal place to get a crash course on a country's history and culture. Last year, 33 museums in town began offering freeadmission to give the public a better understanding of China's past and present. Most of the museums are located in the suburbs or attached to another tourist site.

China National Film Museum

This museum, opened in 2005 to celebrate the centennial of Chinese cinema, is the world's largest film museum. Movie aficionados will go gaga over its gigantic movie collecton.

The building's design, by US-based RTKL International and Beijing Construction Design Institution, reflects the concept of finding a balance between film and architecture. The grand exterior features an image of a gant screen and a series of slanted structures resembling a film clipboard.

A Guide to Beijing's Free Museums

The interior of the four-story museum is divided into four halls colored red, green, blue and yellow.

The exhibition area covers the second and third floors and has 10 halls. Through multimedia presentations of Chinese films, visitors can follow the development of the local movie industry.
Five halls on the second floor focus on the history of Chinese cinema, from birth in 1905 of its first film Dingjunshan, or Conquering the Jun Mountain, to million-yuan modern blockbusters. The achievements of certain Chinese filmmakers are also documented.

On the third floor, another five halls show different types of films: animated, children's, science and educational, news and documentaries, even foreign films. They also introduce movies from HongKong, Macau and Taiwan.

The expo area on the top floor encompasses 10 halls, which focus on demystifying filmmaking. The exhibits present the various aspects of filmmaking: shooting, editing, musical scoring, special effects and developing.

A Guide to Beijing's Free Museums

Visitors are offered an interactive experience that allows them to make their own short films and record sounds. They can try their hand at dubbing and editing, and learn the secrets of the trade like reverse-action filming and rear-screen projection. People who can only spare one day at the museum should head straight to the expo area.

Scattered throughout the museum's 20 exhibition halls are dioramas that tell the story of Chinese cinema. Old quipment like spotlights and lenses are also on display.

There is a small snack shop in the building for visitors who want refreshments. There is also a cafe for those who want to sit down and catch their breath. Customers can use the cafe's Internet connection to surf the Web for free.


The museum has theaters that showcase movies in various formats: IMAX, digital and 35mm film. IMAX, also called the "giant screen," is one of the most advanc cinema systems. It has a powerful multiple sound track system, including surround sound.

The museum's IMAX cinema, which can seat about 400, is highly recommended. It charges a fee, but is still cheaper than other movie houses; 2D films are 30 yuan, while 3D ones are 50 yuan.

The three 35mm theaters, which screen domestic and international award-winning films, charge 2 yuan.

Visitors to the museum need to make an appointment over the phone or on the Internet. Walk-in visitors are allowed, but they cannot be guaranteed tickets.
Where: 9 Nanying Lu, Chaoyang District
Getting there: Take bus 402, 418, 688 or 973 to Naogao stop, then follow street signs to get to the museum on foot.
Tel: 5165 4567
Web site: cnfm.org.cn
Open: Daily except Monday, 9 am-4:30 pm

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