All people who travel have different plans, interests and expectations. Still, when you travel to Beijing few people will leave out famous Wangfujing Street on their Beijing tours. So if you’re interested in culture and contemporary art the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC) is a great place to visit on the same day because it’s located right at the north end of Wangfujing Street. There is no general entrance fee; you just need to present your passport at the ticket booth. Depending on the temporary exhibitions there might be an extra fee but that’s not generally the case. At the entrance desk you can also leave bags and jackets without paying a fee.

The museum was built in 1959 for the tenth anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. It was finally completed and opened to the public in 1962. Since then the institution has been a center for research and exhibition and is the most important institute for art in China. It displays mainly modern and contemporary art works by national artist, not only paintings but also photographs, calligraphy, printing art, ceramics and sculptures. Occasionally, pieces of art from abroad are displayed and there have also been numerous international exhibitions.

The main body of the gallery is built in the style of a traditional Chinese pavilion with a roof out of yellow tiles and a title board at the entrance gate which was inscribed by Mao Zedong. The inside of the building is very modern and equipped with the newest technologies after undergoing major renovation in 2002/2003. The museum consists of three main exhibition floors, the first, third and fifth floor with high ceilings leaving enough space even for very large paintings. There are 17 exhibition halls covering a total area of 8,300 square meters.

Visitors hoping to learn about the development of Chinese art in the past centuries won’t find a lot of information about it. This might come as a surprise to some so it’s always a good advice to check out the gallery’s homepage to find out about the current exhibitions. Some are only displayed for no longer than a week and others last up to a month but rarely longer than that. But therefore the temporary exhibitions with works of renowned Chinese artists are hard to find in other places, especially in such dimensions. Moreover, the changing themes and pieces of art also keep it interesting for local visitors.

For people interested in art and especially in contemporary art this place is worth a visit although it helps to know in advance what to expect. And to find out more about Chinese culture and history there is more than enough opportunity to learn when going on China tours. In all bigger cities there are definitely numerous museums and exhibitions for all kinds of interests.

Jack Li
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