First built in 1984, the Exhibition of Modern Warfare was open to the public in 1988. And it was under renovation and readjustment in 1998 and reopened in 1999. Located in the west part of the fourth floor of the exhibition building, the exhibition occupies an area of 1,300 square meters and houses over 500 exhibits, including cultural relics, photographs, reconstructed models, sand tables, charts and tables, wax figures and man-made spectacles. The Exhibition of Modern Warfare was removed in May 2012 when the Museum’s reinforcement and renovation project began.
The Exhibition of Modern Warfare primarily captures the armed struggle of the Chinese people against foreign invasions and domestic oppressions between 1840 and 1919. In the timeline of history, the exhibition is divided into five parts, namely the Opium War (1840-1842), the War of Taiping Heavenly Kingdom (1851-1864), the war against the carve-up of China by foreign powers, the revolutionary war overthrowing the Qing regime and the war against the Northern Warlords (1912-1927). In addition to important wars in China’s modern history, the exhibition also features dozens of renowned military figures such as Lin Zexu, as well as modern China’s military industries, the building of an advanced naval force and the military reform launched in the late Qing Dynasty.
In the Exhibition of Modern Warfare there are many precious military relics, including the inscribed cannon used by troops of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, Zuo Zongtang’s seal, Ding Ruchang’s armory and the US-made Gatling guns. The figures in relief in the lobby look magnificent yet solemn, revealing the theme of the Exhibition of Modern Warfare and representing the epitome of modern wars in China, so that visitors may have a panorama of the modern military history in the country. There are also man-made spectacles, reconstructed models, wax figures, paintings and sculptures, such as the large-scale reconstructed spectacles “the Old Summer Palace” and “the Battle on the Yellow Sea” that reveal the barbarities of the Anglo-French Allied Army and recapture the pitched battle fought on the Yellow Sea during the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895. Oil paintings like Anti-British Heroic Activities at Humen, Lifeblood in Vast Desert and The Triumph in the Battle of Langfang painted by renowned painters Gao Hong, He Kongde and Gao Quan, vividly depict the Chinese people’s brave fights against foreign invasions.