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Article featured in Beijing This Month, January 2006
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Capital Museum Gets Modern Look


Beijing's new Capital Museum on Fuxingmenwai Dajie, the western extension of Beijing's Chang'an Jie, is open for viewing by the public.
The grand opening of the museum was attended by Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee; Liu Qi, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and secretary of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the CPC; and State Councillor Chen Zhili.
The museum joins a list of at least 16 prominent museums located along China's most famous thoroughfare, including the China National Museum, the Palace Museum (Forbidden City) and the China Military Museum. More than 1,000 people visited the museum on December 16 when it opened for trial use, according to the museum's receptionists.
The 1.23 billion yuan (US$152 million) Capital Museum-referred to in some news reports as the Beijing Museum-is a northern equivalent of the well-established Shanghai Museum. It recounts the story of ancient Beijing, which has served as a capital city for more than 850 years and the Chinese capital, more or less, since the mid-17th century. It is expected to receive as many as 2,000 visitors per day.
The original museum, located in the Confucius Temple on Guozijian Street, was founded as early as 1981, but because of its inconvenient location within the ancient temple, it functioned primarily as a warehouse of relics. It was temporarily closed last year when its collection was moved to the new 60,000-square-metre building, located close to the Muxidi subway station exit on Line 1, which runs under Chang'an Avenue.
The Capital Museum is second only to China National Museum in terms of size.
It will eventually offer an English language city museum map and currently offers English-language museum brochures. Some information will be provided in Japanese. It also features other useful services such as a free cloak desk and a well-stocked museum shop.
The five-storey building allows for a maximum of 13 concurrent exhibitions, which can be viewed in about 5.5 hours at a cost of 20 yuan (US$2.50) per regular visitor.