Shaanxi Province is the birthplace of the ancient Chinese civilization. Xian City was the capital city in thirteen dynasties which in total lasted over 1100 years. Consequently, the ancient history of Shaanxi is to some degree the ancient history of China. The Shaanxi History Museum considers it an obligation to be a showcase of ancient civilizations. It is situated in the southern suburb of Xian City, northwest of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda.Since it was opened to the public in 1991, its architectural buildings, internal apparatus, and exhibits have made it famous as a first-class museum in China.
The museum occupies an area of 65,000 square meters (16 acres). It is a grand complex of buildings imitating the architecture style of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). A two-storied primary pavilion stands in the center, and secondary pavilions of varying heights are distributed orderly around it. With black, white and grey as the predominant colors, the buildings have a solemn and rustic charm. The museum is furnished with central air-conditioning and multi-functional lighting system to ensure the protection of the culture relics. It is a comprehensive museum with more than 370,000 exhibits of different times and kinds.
Basic Exhibition Hall
The Basic Exhibition Hall is composed of the No 1 exhibition hall, the No 2 exhibition hall and the No 3 exhibition hall, marked by time order. The No 1 exhibition on the first floor hall displays the articles used during the period from 1.7 million years ago to 206 BC of the Qin Dynasty (221 BC-206 BC). This exhibition contains rough stone tools used by the ape man, the pottery, bronze sacrificial vessels, weapons and terracotta figures. By visiting the No 2 Exhibition Hall on the second floor, you will gain a general understanding of the historical process from 206 BC in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220AD) to 589 AD in the Northern and Southern Dynasties (386-589). Papermaking, one of China’s great inventions, and some important historical events are portrayed on the scroll painting. The No 3 Exhibition Hall on the second floor is dedicated to articles in the dynasties: the Sui (581- 618), the Tang (618-907), the Song (960-1279), the Yuan (1271-1368), the Ming (1368-1644) and the Qing (1644-1911). The model of the grand Chang’an City (Xian) during the Sui and the Tang, the shiny silver and gold utensils, pottery figures and the high-quality chinaware all await to be relished by the eyes.
Theme Exhibition Hall
To the west of the Basic Exhibition Hall lies the Theme Exhibition Hall. The hall is 2,500 square meters (26,909 square feet) and usually features a variety of theme exhibitions. The exhibitions in this hall are often theme-oriented to show the history or the culture relics of Shaanxi Province, such as the ‘Shanxi Bronze Ware Exhibition’, the ‘Shaanxi Pottery Figure Exhibition’ and the ‘Buddhist Culture Relic Exhibition’. It is now the Tang Dynasty Treasures Exhibition displaying the most precious wares buried and found in Hejia Village, Xian. The exhibition contains the top treasures of the museum.
East Exhibition Hall
The East Exhibition Hall, equal in size to the Theme Exhibition Hall, is also on the first floor and to the east of the basic hall. It is used for contemporary exhibitions of high quality. The duration of the exhibitions varies depending on the exhibition theme. The various exhibition themes, high-grade exhibition design and lively exhibition forms will surely please your eyes. Exhibitions of the frescos, the culture relics, the folkways, the fine arts and the calligraphy are conducted continuously.
Feature Exhibition Hall for Tang Mural Paintings
Shaanxi History Museum has China’s first feature exhibition specialized on mural paintings. The new exhibition hall for those mural treasures is 12-year Sino-Italy cooperation project and open up for the public on June 20, 2011. Nearly 100 mineral painting of the Tang Dynasty are displayed there. Shaanxi History Museum has a collection of nearly 600 precious mineral paintings (about 1,000 square meters) from some 20 noble tombs of the Tang Dynasty. Those national treasures can be called peerless fine works. They are vivid encyclopedia of the Tang imperial life. Sixty-two mineral paintings first showed up in the East Exhibition Hall when the museum was just finished and opened. For the insufficient condition for protection, they were moved back to the storeroom. In the following years, the mural paintings were only visible occasionally with strict restriction of amount of visitors and visiting time. The new exhibition hall is equipped with advance technology which can provide good protection to those murals. Twenty years after their first show, those valuable treasures return to the limelight.