The Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution (Chinese Military Museum) is China’s first comprehensive military museum, located at 9, Fuxing Road, Beijing. Started in October 1958, the construction of the exhibition building was completed in July 1959. Opened to the public on August 1, 1960, it is one of the 10 major buildings marking the 10th founding anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. The exhibition building’s reinforcement and renovation started in September 2012 and was completed in July 2017. Today the exhibition building has a floor space of 159,000 square meters and an exhibition space of about 60,000 square meters. The main building is 94.7 meters high, with four floors on both southern and northern sides. Atop the building is a huge emblem of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) with a diameter of six meters. The Museum has altogether 43 exhibition halls (sections).
The Museum is primarily dedicated to collecting, studying and displaying cultural relics, objects, documents and literature on the revolution and the achievements of the people’s army building under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) as well as on the 5,000-year military history of the Chinese nation. In addition, the Museum also houses various exhibitions on certain themes, current events and memorial issues around the key tasks assigned by the CPC, the Central Government and the PLA, receives Chinese and foreign visitors, organizes related academic research and art creation activities, and conducts cooperation and exchanges with other museums both at home and abroad. Under the Museum, there are 10 middle-level units including the General Office, Editing Research Office, Publicity and Education Office, Design Art Studio, Collection Storage, Cultural Relics Protection Room, Reference Room, Security Room, Tongzhou Branch and Huairou Branch. Besides, it has the Academic Committee, Art Committee and Cultural Relics Appraisal Committee.
Collection of Cultural Relics.The Museum’s collection of cultural relics are mainly about the PLA military history, the military history of ancient and modern China, and the military history of the world. The featured cultural relics cover the weaponry, military uniforms, certificates and badges, and military works of art. The Museum currently houses over 180,000 pieces/sets of cultural heritage, including 1,793 pieces/sets of first class heritage, like aircraft, artillery, ships, missiles, guns, ammunition, cold weapons, medals, badges, seals, coins, pottery, porcelain, utensils, clothing, flags, documents and notes. Among them the representative ones include Qin Terracotta Warriors, Western Han Iron Beryllium, Han Hook Set, Sui Brass Tiger-shaped Tally, Yuan Zhizheng 11th-year Brass Blunderbuss, Ming Hongwu Fifth-year Bowl-Mouthed Brass Blunderbuss, Ming Hongwu 10th-year Brass Blunderbuss, Ming Dongsifang Jin Ivory Waist Tag, Ming Wang Shu Ivory Waist Tag, Qing Cannon, Taiping Heavenly Kingdom Iron Cannon, Zuo Zongtang Seal, Ding Ruchang’s Coat Of Armor, “Zhengyuan” Ship Iron Anchor, Copper Gun from Jinling Machine Manufacturing Bureau, Gatling Gun, Ye Ting’s Sword in the Northern Expedition, Zhu De’s Pistol in Nanchang Uprising, the Puttees Gifted by Mao Zedong to Yuan Wencai, He Long’s Seal with a Lion-shaped Knob, the First Transceiver of the Red Army, the Seal of the CPC Central Revolutionary Military Commission, the Order of the Red Star for Zhou Enlai, Iron Chain on the Luding Bridge, Brocade Scroll with the Inscription of “For the Prosperity of Ethnic Minorities” by He Long, the Trench Mortar Killing Norihide Abe in the Battle of Huangtuling, Yang Jingyu’s Seal, Zuo Quan’s Revolver, “August 1” Horse Rifle from the Military Engineering Department of the Eighth Route Army, Samurai Sword Handed in by Yasuji Okamura, Commander-In-chief of the Japanese Army Invading China on the Surrender Ceremony, the First Tank “Merit” of the PLA, Keys to City Gates of Beiping (Today’s Beijing), DPRK Goldstar Medal for Huang Jiguang, MiG-15 Fighter Piloted by Wang Hai, Gunship Of Toumenshan Sea Battle and U2 Spy Plane.
The Museum systematically collects cultural relics of modern and contemporary China and in particular those about Chinese military history through the transfer from the PLA major units plus the donation and transfer from individuals, so it enjoys a prominent status as a distinctive large military (red) museum. Over recent years, the Museum has stepped up efforts to solicit military artifacts from donators and sellers from across the world, and it has collected nearly 20,000 pieces/sets of valuable cultural heritage with great collection and research value.
With a floor space of about 18,000 square meters, the Museum’s storage for cultural relics is a modern, specialized and information-based space with a range of functions covering the cultural relics management, display, protection, information collection and safety precaution. The storage includes the collection room, display room of rare artifacts, general ledger room, photo studio, 3D data collection room, repair room and weaponry maintenance workshop among other function areas, and is installed with the constant temperature and humidity system, environmental monitoring system, gas fire-extinguishing system, information-based management system, communication system and security system.
The Museum’s exhibition system featuring military history mainly includes：
Exhibition of the CPC-led Revolutionary Wars
Exhibition of New China National Defense and Army Building
Exhibition of Weapons
Exhibition of Chinese Military History
Exhibition of Military Technology
Red Memory: Exhibition of Artistic Works on Revolutions
The exhibition shows the eventful history of revolutionary wars fought by the people’s army for over 20 years under the leadership of the CPC to overthrow the three big mountains of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat-capitalism. They come in the three parts of the Agrarian Revolutionary War, the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the War of Liberation of China.
The exhibition displays the course about how the people’s army becomes more revolutionary, modern, and standardized after the founding of New China, the brilliant achievements it has made, and especially its meritorious services delivered in faithfully fulfilling its mission, defending and contributing to the motherland, to highlight the army is loyal to the CPC, able to win and persistent with its good traditions.
The weapons are displayed in three sections respectively in B1, F1 and F2. The exhibition highlights the armaments seized and used by the people’s army, and in particular the weapons which played a significant role in the history of the people’s army. It reveals the indomitable spirit and glorious tradition of the people’s army which though in an inferior status defeated the apparently strong enemy during the revolutionary wars and demonstrates the course about developing armaments from scratch and then generating more and more advanced weapons in New China.
Following the evolution of Chinese military, the exhibition features the war practice over the ages, armaments, military systems and military thoughts among other fruits of civilization, accentuating the Chinese nation’s patriotic tradition characterized by steadfastness and unremitting self-improvement. It affords the visitors an opportunity to immerse themselves in the profound military culture, to trace the glorious journey the Chinese civilization has evolved through, and to feel for themselves the fine traditions of Chinese nation.
The exhibition halls are set for the army’s heavy weaponry technology, the army’s light weaponry technology, the navy’s weaponry technology, the air force’s weaponry technology, the missile weaponry, and the peaceful use of nuclear weapons and nuclear technologies respectively. The introduction to the national defense technology and to the military technology about diverse services and arms coupled with modern presentation means intends to enhance the visitors’ science literacy, promote scientific spirit, popularize related knowledge and spread scientific means.
Featuring oil paintings, sculptures and Chinese paintings, the exhibition makes a point of displaying military-related artistic masterpieces in the Museum’s collection. It fully demonstrates the glorious image of the people’s army under the CPC leadership and all-roundly manifests the brilliant achievements made in building up the people’s army.
In addition to the permanent exhibitions, the Museum also holds large themed exhibitions. In recent years, it has held such exhibitions as “Directing Military Operations with Miraculous Skill: Mao Zedong’s Superb Military Command”, “Indelible History: Exhibition of Chinese Resistance against Japanese Aggression since Modern Times”, “Gutian Congress: A Milestone in the History of Party Building and Army Building”, “The Backbone: Themed Exhibition on the CPC and the CPC-led People’s Army Fighting against Japanese Aggression”, and “Immortal Monument of Heroic Epic: Commemorating the 80th Anniversary of the Victory of the Long March of the Chinese Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army”, which have been widely acclaimed by the CPC Central Committee leadership and the visitors from all sectors of society and which have exerted tremendous social impact. Notably, to mark the 90th founding anniversary of the PLA, the Museum held the “Commemorating the Glorious History and Building a Strong Army: Themed Exhibition to Mark the PLA’s 90th Founding Anniversary”, which took place both indoors and outdoors, covering an exhibition space of 7,300 square meters including the exhibition hall of 5,000 square meters and the outdoor space of 2,300 square meters. The exhibition featured over 1,100 pictures, more than 1,300 cultural relics, 18 installations, 22 pieces of single-soldier equipment, 13 works of art, 7 landscapes, and 61 models, offering a panoramic view of the remarkable achievements of the people’s army, and highlighting the fine styles and glorious traditions of Chinese military and in particular the attainments made in national defense and army building since the CPC 18th National Congress.
Information-based Construction.The portal website of the Museum was launched on August 1, 2010, and the corresponding digital museum has been established. The website, including the seven first-level columns of About Us, News Updates, Exhibitions, Visiting, Interaction, Collections, and Research & Creation, releases information about the Museum, advance notice about exhibitions, guide for visitors, cultural relic solicitation and volunteer recruitment, and supports ticket booking, netizens leaving messages and questionnaire survey. To expand the exhibitions’ influence and facilitate remote visiting, the Museum has successively launched online six permanent exhibitions, including the Exhibition of the CPC-led Revolutionary Wars, the Exhibition of New China National Defense and Army Building, the Exhibition of Weapons, the Exhibition of Chinese Military History, the Exhibition of Military Technology, and Red Memory: Exhibition of Artistic Works about Military Revolution in the Museum’s Collection, along with the themed exhibition of “Commemorating the Glorious History and Building a Strong Army: Marking the PLA’s 90th Founding Anniversary”. Besides, the official Weibo and Wechat Account of the Museum have been set to adapt to the up-to-date Internet development.
While the exhibition building was being reinforced and renovated in 2017, the information-based construction of the Museum was in full swing. According to the reference model and technology standards of the State Administration Cultural Heritage smart museum, an information-based framework consisting of the cloud computing center and the five platforms respectively for transmission, service, research and teaching, management and operation has been established. Altogether 10 application information systems covering the portal website, APP client, Wechat Account, virtual museum, ticketing management, public information guide, and intelligent commentary have been set. Based on digitalization smart perception, positioning and interaction among other functions are activated to integrate information online and offline. And such means as big data analysis and information push are adopted to provide the visitors with even better and more intelligent services.
Ever since 1985, the Museum has been editing and publishing the monthly Military History, providing comprehensive knowledge about Chinese and foreign military development from such perspectives as military history, armaments and military art.