Běijīng Planning Exhibition Hall 北京市规划展览馆

前门东大街, 前门老火车站的东边
For those who mourn Old Běijīng, displays of the destruction still to come
Part of A Better Guide to Beijing’s coverage of the Imperial City

While the various exhibitions around Tiān’ān Mén Square look back to Běijīng’s past, the contents of this smart steel and glass building just off the square look towards the future, although the view down into the abyss of change is a little dizzying. Many museums around the city dealing with any aspect of its history offer table models with miniature walls, palaces, temples, and hútòng houses, but from the fourth floor here you can look down from balconies fitted with binoculars onto a vast recreation of the Běijīng to come that takes up much of the third floor, or go down and walk around the model buildings and over glass-topped photographic sections.

Various side area have detailed displays on smaller sections of the city and some excellent models, and there’s much use of touch-screen terminals and other technological aids.

In cinemas on the top floor, special-effect movies (glasses provided) give you a doctored history of the city (Marco Polo makes a brief appearance) and take you swooping over an idealized 21st century version, among the new multi-billion-yuán landmarks of the ‘CBD’ (Central Business District) and Olympic Park. Blade Runner may actually have been inspired by Osaka, but director Ridley Scott might equally have had New Běijīng as his model.

The 3-D movie plays at 10am, 11, 2.30pm, and 3.30, and the 4-D movie every 30 mins., 9.30am–12 noon, 2pm–4.30pm.

▶ Běijīng Guīhuà Zhǎnlǎnguǎn, Qián Mén Dōng Dàjiē 20, just E of the China Railway Museum (Zhèngyáng Mén Branch) and Zhèngyáng Mén, t 6701 7074, www.bjghzl.com.cn, Tues–Sun, 9am–4pm. ¥30, 3D and 4D movies a further ¥10 each. m Qián Mén exit B (Line 2). b to 前门东: 特2, 8, 9, 20, 44外环, 44内环, 673, 729.

The China Railway Museum (Zhèngyáng Mén Branch) and Qián Mén shopping and restaurants are just to the west, along with the sights around Tiān’ān Mén Square. The Míng City Wall Ruins Park is a few minutes’ walk to the east.

Next in Imperial City: Běi Hǎi Park 北海公园
Previous: China Railway Museum (Zhèngyáng Mén Branch)
Main Index of A Better Guide to Beijing.

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