Xinjiang Autonomous Museum is located on Xibei Lu ("Northwest Road") in the heart of Urumqi, northwest of the city's "twin parks", People's Park (Renmin Gongyuan) and Red Hill (Hongshan) Park. As an integrated museum, it includes the Xinjiang Historical Relics Exhibit and the Xinjiang Folklore Exhibit with 32,000 articles on display.
Overview of Xinjiang Autonomous Museum
Xinjiang Regional Museum was originally established in 1953 as part of nearby People's Park, but was rebuilt and greatly enlarged at its current location in 1962. The current museum, which is built in a semi-modern style that incorporates elements of traditional architecture borrowed from the region's ethnic minorities, especially the ethnic Uyghurs, spans some 11,000 square meters.
It is a very solid structure with a dome that stands 30 meters high and which offers one of the best, if not the best, views of the city of Urumqi.
Arguably, the highlight of the historical relics exhibit are the displays of the mummified remains of the so-called Tarim Mummies of the Taklamakan Desert, the most famous example of which is the "Beauty of Loulan", a female with distinctly Caucasoid features who belongs to the ethnic group that apparently were the first late Stone Age (Neolithic Age). This mummy is well-preserved.
The museum's historical relics display includes the fossil of a human head that dates roughly from this same period), a fact that is all the more remarkable given that these late Stone Age people were not only not of "local" origin, i.e., not of Chinese or Turkic origin, but were Caucasians of European origin.
The Xinjiang Folklore Exhibit
The Xinjiang Folklore Exhibit, as indicated, also includes displays related to Xinjiang's current ethnic minority groups, of which there are a dozen: Daur, Hui, Kazakh, Kirgiz, Manchu, Mongolian, Russian, Tajik, Tatar (the original homeland of the Tatars (alternatively, Tartars), Uyghur, Uzbek and Xibo.
The displayed items include folk costumes (both everyday clothing as well as dress costumes), hunting and farming implements and various other tools, as well as sundry items that might make up the household of a typical villager in Xinjiang.
Items related to religious practices, courtship and marriage, and the celebration of important festivals, the idea being to provide a glimpse into the life – both everyday life as well as festive occasions – of the various ethnic groups that are represented in Xinjiang.
The Xinjiang Historical Relics Exhibit
The Xinjiang Historical Relics Exhibit includes: richly decorative silks and damasks, including Eastern Han Dynasty silk brocades, Tang Dynasty silks, several original paintings – some on silk, others on paper – by famous Tang Dynasty artists that depict typical Han Chinese social scenes, such as people dancing, women playing weiqi (go in Japanese, a board game which, like chess, requires a well-thought-out, unfolding strategy), children cavorting about, etc.
Iron- and bronze wares, various examples of carpentry styles, terracotta tomb figures and figurines (Bactrian (two-humped) camels, Yuan (CE 1279-1368) Dynasty period horses, impressively fierce warriors, females in various postures, and a host of other figures, all evidence of a lively Silk Road trade throughout Xinjiang).
Visitors can easily find that weapon, pottery, coins and rubbings from ancient stone inscriptions and the Tarim Mummies as well as ancient manuscripts there.
Some unique items on display at the museum include: stone stele, woodcarvings, handicraft articles made of silver, ceramic items, silk ribbon, books written on bamboo, haircloth (usually horsehair) items such as blankets, felt articles.
A number of dry foodstuffs that stem from the Tang Dynasty and which were preserved here thanks to the extremely arid climate; and a plethora of prehistoric fossils.
Of the manuscripts, many stem from the Han Dynasty period, after most of the "Western Regions" (i.e., parts of present-day Qinghai (and perhaps Tibet Autonomous Region, Xinjiang, Gansu, Inner Mongolia (Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region), "Outer" Mongolia and Ningxia (Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region)) came under Han Chinese rule, either directly or as vassal states.
The manuscripts, most in Mandarin but some in the script of the local languages cover topics such as economic, political, military and cultural affairs.
Many of these manuscripts were originally discovered in the city of Turpan, which was the seat of numerous lesser kingdoms, including the first Uyghur Kingdom to be established in China after the Uyghur people were driven out of their homelands farther northeast by Kazakh invaders.
Other Top Exhibitions
Besides the two permanent exhibitions, Xinjiang Regional Museum stages special-focus exhibitions as well as traveling exhibitions. Two examples of the former are an exhibition of Buddhist frescoes from the Kizil Caves (or the "Kizil Cave of a Thousand Buddhas") and an exhibition that showcases the province's steppe, or grasslands, culture, while some examples of the latter include: the Primitive Societies of China Exhibition.
The Sinkiang Mummies and Excavations Exhibition, the History of Xinjiang, From the Han to the Tang Dynasties Exhibition and an exhibition that showcases the extensive collection of paintings that have accrued to the museum over time.
Xinjiang Regional Museum's many regional and national treasures are a testimony to the province's broad cultural diversity, to its ancient prehistory and to its subsequent glorious history as a thriving and indispensable part of China's ancient Silk Road culture.
Since many of the ancient Silk Road cities are but ruins today, with most of their interesting artifacts removed for protection (for posterity), the only way to get a full picture of what these ancient cities were like during their heyday is to pay a visit to Xinjiang Regional Museum in Urumqi.
Visitors will be not allowed get into the museum after 16:30 pm. Please keep in mind.
There are some both beautiful and famous scenic spots such as Red Hill and Heavenly Lake around Xinjiang Autonomous Museum. Red Hill is a magnificent hill where visitors can enjoy the beautiful scenery of sunrise and sunset. While Heavenly Lake looks like a crystal mirror floating in the sky, which makes it a nice place for visitors to enjoy the tranquility and beauty of nature.