Xi'an is of inestimable significance in the history of China, having long been a cultural powerhouse and capital of numerous dynasties. The Shaanxi History Museum, a modern building echoing classic Tang Dynasty architecture, offers a time-traveling tour of the city and its surrounding province.
Much of the enormous collection, including early tools and vessels, at the Shaanxi History Museum is the result of archeological digs in the area from a Neolithic village. A collection of Ming Dynasty pottery guard figurines makes a nice contrast to the city’s famed terracotta warriors, while other exhibits include priceless objects in jade, bronze, and ceramics.
Those with an interest in the history of Shaanxi province and its ancient capital can opt for a sightseeing tour that includes entrance to the museum. In half a day, it’s possible to see the museum and Big Wild Goose Pagoda, and with a full day, you can also explore sites such as the Xi'an City Walls, Great Mosque, Bell Tower and Drum Tower, and the Muslim Quarter. Beijing-based travelers can visit the museum (and Xi'an’s other highlights) on a private 2-day tour by air.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Shaanxi History Museum is a must-visit for history buffs.
- It’s a good idea to book ahead of time, as only a limited number of free tickets are issued daily.
- Don’t forget to bring a valid photo ID.
- Give yourself two to three hours to tour the museum exhibits.
- English audio guides are available for rent.
- The museum is wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
To get to the museum, take the Xi'an Metro (Line 2 or 3) to Xiaozhai Station and leave through Exit D. From there, it’s a short walk to the museum entrance. Several public buses also stop at nearby Cuihua Lu bus stop.
When to Get There
The museum is open Tuesdays to Sundays and closed during public holidays. The time period surrounding Chinese national holidays and summer vacation (July and August) can be a bit crowded, as many Chinese families show up with kids in tow. Arrive early before the museum opens.
Highlights of the Museum Collection
There’s a lot to see in the museum, but a few areas and cultural relics should not be missed. One of the most interesting parts of the permanent collection is the Mural Paintings of the Tang Dynasty, a collection of 600 murals found in 20 Tang Dynasty tombs. Other highlights include four original terracotta warrior statues and several sculpted ceramics from the Tang Dynasty.