By Zhou Mengya in Features

The Yunnan Provincial Museum, one of the first national first-grade museums, was established in 1951 as a grand treasure trove of Yunnan's profound history, culture and world-class art. The newly designed Yunnan Provincial Museum opened its doors on May 18, 2015 and is a dignified building with contemporary elements, specifically designed as a unique setting for its diverse exhibitions. It features the province's rare, ancient cultural artifacts and relics. Its exhibitions provide deep insight into the history of Yunnan Province, from prehistory to 1949 when the People's Republic of China was founded.

The museum, one of Kunming's landmark buildings, can be found at the southeast side of Baoxiang River, and across the street from the Yunnan Grand Theater.

Main entrance of the museum

The inspiration for the museum's exterior shape comes from a residential architectural form commonly used by the Han and Yi nationalities in Kunming and similar to the traditional courtyard quadrangles in Beijing. Called yikeyin, meaning "one seal", the name reflects the shape, with the whole building formed as a neat square so that, when viewing from afar, it looks like a square stamp sealed on the ground. The facade of the museum imitates the weathered morphological character of the Stone Forest, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site located to the east of Kunming.

While its form points to local culture and history, the construction of the museum has utilized new materials and technology, with the ability to withstand a magnitude-9 earthquake, bringing the building to world-class level of engineering. With both form and function taken into account, it can accommodate 3,000 visitors at any given time.

Bronze Culture exhibition area

Yunnan is home to 25 ethnic minorities and the museum gives its visitors context connecting the art with the history and culture of these unique communities and how they interact with each other.

There are seven permanent exhibitions in the museum. The Preface Hall, Paleolithic Yunnan, Bronze Age, Local Regime on Yunnan (Yunnan in the Wei, Jin, the Northern and Southern Dynasties), The Art of Buddhist Kingdom (Yunnan in Tang and Song Dynasties), Pioneer and Defense (Yunnan in Yuan, Ming, Qing Dynasties), and Contemporary Yunnan (Modern History of Yunnan).

Geluofeng Conducting Political Discussion in exhibition area of Yunnan in the Tang and Song Dynasties

In addition, the Yunnan Provincial Museum has held more than 400 temporary exhibitions, among which have been those with works by masters such as Xu Beihong, Zhang Daqian, Pan Tianshou, Li Zijian, and Liu Ziming. In addition, exhibitions have included the French "Deep Sea Treasures" international tour, Master Xingyun's "One-stroke Calligraphy Exhibition", "Embroidered Luo Yunchang - Shanghai Style Cheongsam and Yunnan Costume Exhibition", "The Ancient Tea-Horse Road - Special Exhibition of Cultural Relics from Eight Provinces and Regions", and "Southern Overlord - Exhibition of Cultural Relics from Zhuang Qiao's Homeland of Chu".

Mural inside the Tomb of Huo Chengsi in exhibition area of Integration of Yunnan minorities with the Han Nationdity

Over the past 50 years, the Yunnan Provincial Museum has conducted hundreds of scientific archaeological excavations, trial excavations and investigations throughout the province, and together with collections, social acquisitions and donations, it owns more than 190,000 bronzes, ancient coins, calligraphy and paintings, ceramics, monument stickers, stamps, and various handicrafts. This has made it the museum in Yunnan Province with the largest collection of cultural relics as well as the province's most comprehensive museum. Among these precious cultural items, more than 1,000 are recognized as national first-class cultural relics. Meanwhile, the museum earns the laurel as the most influential institution in both research and cultural relic appraisal in Yunnan Province.

Exhibition area of Tantrism in Yunnan

From 1955 to 1960, four large-scale archaeological excavations were carried out in Jinning's Shizhai Shan ancient tombs. This cemetery is representative of bronze age culture in the Dianchi Lake area and is known as the Shizhai Shan or Dian culture by archaeologists around the world. More than 50 tombs were cleared and more than 4,000 cultural relics unearthed, including many bronzes and some gold wares. Most were added to the Yunnan Provincial Museum's collection. The exquisite workmanship of these relics not only reflects the superb skills of the Dian people of that time, but also the power and luxury possessed by frontier nobles more than 2,000 years ago.

Exhibition area of The Art of Buddhist Kingdom

While providing opportunity for perusal by local people and visitors to Kunming, since its establishment, the Yunnan Provincial Museum has also organized dozens of exhibitions in the United States, Germany, France, Switzerland, Japan and other countries.

Exhibition area of Centennial Upheavals Yunnan Province Since 1840

Information of Yunnan Provincial Museum

Address 6393 Guangfu Road

Buses Guandu District Government Station: No. 169, No. 252, No. A12

Subway Xingyao Road Station: Get off of Metro Line 1 and walk to Zijun Village (North Caiyun Road) Station and take bus z84, get off at Guangfu Road (Gudukou Road) Station

Opening hours Admission starts at 9am on Tuesday to Sunday and guided services is available from 9:10am. Admission ends at 4:30pm and the museum closes at 5am.