National Museum of China / gmp architekten

© Christian Gahl

Architects: gmp architekten
Location: , China
Design team: Gregor Hoheisel, Katrin Kanus, Ralf Sieber, Du Peng, Chun-song Dong
Project leaders: Matthias Wiegelmann mit Patrick Pfleiderer
Outline design: Meinhard von Gerkan and Stephan Schütz with Stephan Rewolle and Doris Schäffler
Revised design: Meinhard von Gerkan and Stephan Schütz with Stephan Rewolle
Project team: Bao Wei, Johanna Enzinger, Anna Bulanda, Kong Jing, An-dreas Goetze, Guo Fuhui, Mulyanto, Chen Yue, Zheng Xin, Gao Hua, Xing Jiuzhou, Helga Reimund, Tobias Keyl, Christian Dorndorf, Anette Loeber, Ve-rena Fischbach, Jiang LinLin, Liu Yan, Mehrafarin Ruzbehi, Yoko Uraji, Lu Han, Xia Lin, Tian Jinghai, Uli Bachmann, Ajda Guelbahar, Iris Belle, Sabine Stage
Client: The National Museum of China
Project area: 192,000 sqm
Project year: 2007 – 2010
Photographs: Christian Gahl, Ben McMillan, gmp

© Christian Gahl

The reconstruction and extension of the National Museum of China in Beijing merges the former Chinese History Museum and Chinese Revolutionary Mu-seum. Originally completed in 1959 as one of ten major public buildings in Tiananmen Square in the immediate vicinity of the Forbidden City, the struc-ture is still a milestone in modern Chinese architectural history. Elements of Chinese architectural tradition blend with a western, neoclassical architectural idiom.

elevation 01

Eleven international architectural firms were invited to take part in the competi-tion for the reconstruction and extension of this building, which was won by architects von Gerkan, Marg and Partners in association with CABR, Beijing. In October 2004, gmp and CABR were commissioned to do the job, ahead of a field that included Foster and Partners, Kohn Peddersen Fox, OMA and Her-zog & de Meuron.

© Christian Gahl

After prolonged discussions with the client, the design scheme was revised in order to attune the new museum building harmoniously to the external look of the old building, while ensuring old and new were nonetheless distinguishable from each other. The echeloned roof typologies of the buildings in Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City were thus echoed in the new building, though differentiated in detail and material.

© Ben McMillan

In the same way, the colonnades and window styles typical of the existing building were translated into a contemporary formal idiom. The final scheme was finally confirmed in 2006, and was under construction since 2007. The reconstruction of the northern existing building was completed in summer 2009, and the completion of the whole scheme was in Spring 2011.

© Ben McMillan

The 191,900 m² National Museum is the largest museum in the world, its purpose being to act as a showcase for the history and art of one of the oldest cultures of mankind.

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "National Museum of China / gmp architekten" 30 Mar 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <>
  • Katsudon

    Wow more space, more materials, more more more.
    Not the best of GMP, definitely doing such national project in a so sensible area in Beijing, you can feel the hand of the Big Boss here.

  • vlad


  • http://duke duke

    Again one of these projects that are so irresponsible. Its the new face and image of an autocratic regime done by foreign architects in China.
    Why architects don`t have a feeling when to take a commission and when not. Architects have to deal with social and political circumstances in countries where they plan and build.

    • Josh Mings

      Well to quote the late Phillip Johnson “I’m a whore”, got to get paid to put food on the table right? Some think about the social ramifications and who they are building for, and some push that aside.

      As far as the building goes, that lobby is absolutely oppressive, and reminds me of GMPs Berlin Hauptbahnhof (which is quite oppressive in its scale) but with less glass.

    • Antithese

      Again one of these unreflected political correct comments. The German minister for foreign affairs was invited to share in the opening ceremonies. One of his attendants was refused in consequence of honoring Liu Xiao Bo. The minister despite that decided to take part. Why? The first exhibition taking place in the reopened museum broaches the issue of European enlightenment in art and culture. At the Tiananmen square. Opposite the national congress. Changes may occur slowly but they do.

  • Affonso

    Monumental! Pharaohs, great!

  • Brad

    Wow, really guys? Shouldn’t have taken this project?

    Someone’s gonna take it. In this economic climate, a project this big, this exciting…it could make careers, or at least be the chance to do something you could never do anywhere else…

  • Dennis Moss

    i agree with Brad! i don’t see the problem. anyway, it’s a successful piece of architecture if you ask me

  • Rue

    Really antithese? Some people just have to comment on china’s politics before they do so on the actual building. Why do you care so much, especially when you don’t see them complaining in china. Oh btw. My grandfather worked his entire life as an architect, he’s travelled around the nation and not only gets paid lots but enjoys free housing provided by the comp. That’s quite an impressive job.

  • meama

    funny to see Speer’Germania finally realized in China.

  • manoj sharma

    i agree with Brad! i don’t see the problem. anyway, it’s a successful piece of architecture if you ask me dear you me like you

  • ovierg

    I suppose non of you above have visited the museum.