World's Biggest Museum Opens in China : Slideshow

Friday, April 01, 2011

National Museum of China, soldier
Jocelyn Ford

The National Museum of China, grandly situated on Tiananmen Square, reopens on April 1, 2011, after three years of expansion and renovation.

National Museum of China
© CABR Architectural Design Institute, GMP International

At 2.07 million square feet, officials call the renovated National Museum of China the world's largest museum building.  (The second largest — New York's Metropolitan Museum — has about 20,000 fewer square feet.)

National Museum of China, communist iconography
Jocelyn Ford

Communist iconography adorns the front of the National Museum of China.

National Museum of China, Confucius Statue
Jocelyn Ford

An outsized welcome: at 30 feet, this statue of Confucius at the museum's entrance hints at the enormity of the space within.

National Museum of China, Interior
Jocelyn Ford

The museum's interior — once drab and dark — is now filled with natural light.

Gottlieb Schick, Portrait of Heinrike Dannecker, 1802
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, photo: Jörg P. Anders

Gottlieb Schick, Portrait of Heinrike Dannecker, 1802

"The Art of the Enlightenment," the first international exhibit at the reopened musuem, is a cooperative venture. It was jointly organized by three German museums and the National Museum of China.

© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, photo: Hans-Joach im Bartsch

Robe à l’anglaise, around 1770

The exhibit is as ambitious as the museum. Nearly 600 loaned items display a wide spectrum of the arts of the Enlightenment, including masterpieces in painting, sculpture, drawings, and prints, as well as crafts and fashion.

© Bayerisch e Staatsgemäldesammlungen Munich, photo: Bruno Hartinger

Julius Caesar Ibbetson, George Biggin’s Ascent in Lunardi’s Balloon, around 1785 - 1788

In Enlightenment fashion, a series of dialogues and salon discussions is planned to run for the duration of the exhibition.