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Introduction

The National Natural History Museum of China (NNHMC) is the only national, comprehensive natural history museum in China. On behalf of the nation, NNHMC conserves, researches, collects, interprets and exhibits natural objects as well as natural heritage of historical, scientific and artistic values.

NNHMC traces its roots back to the Central Natural History Museum Preparatory Office founded in April 1951. The current venue was inaugurated in May 1958, with the name inscribed by the then President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), historian Guo Moruo. The museum officially opened in January 1959 as the first large-scale natural history museum independently built by the new China and was named the Beijing Museum of Natural History in January 1962. The museum was renamed the National Natural History Museum of China in January 2023.

NNHMC is located on the east side of the southern part of Beijing’s central axis, adjacent to the Temple of Heaven, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The museum covers a floor area of over 23,000 square meters and receives an annual attendance of 1.8 million visitors.

The museum is one of the first National First-Grade Museums and offers free admission to the public. NNHMC mainly engages in the collection, research and science education in the fields of paleontology, zoology, botany, anthropology and other earth sciences and life sciences. The museum currently chairs the Committee for Natural History Museums of Chinese Association of Natural Science Museums, and is a National Science Education Base and a National Youth Science and Technology Education Base.

NNHMC houses a collection of more than 370,000 items, including the largest number of rare specimens among domestic natural history museums, such as the fossil of Juramaia sinensis, the earliest known placental mammal; the fossil of Anchiornis huxleyi, whose full body feather color has been restored; the only fully preserved fossil of Stegodon zdanskyi, and many other precious specimens of national gifts.

The permanent exhibitions follow the line of biological evolution, with such themes as Ancient Reptiles, Prehistoric Mammals, Invertebrates and Amazing Africa, showcasing biodiversity and its relationship with the environment, and building a panorama of the evolution of life on Earth. Temporary and touring exhibitions on different themes are also presented each year.

NNHMC researchers mainly conducts field expedition, scientific research and museological research in basic disciplines such as paleontology, zoology, botany, ecology, geology and paleoanthropology, and has made many important achievements in the field of paleontological research, publishing more than ten papers in international top journals Nature and Science and winning more than ten important awards such as the First Prize of Beijing Science and Technology Award. We has established cooperation with over a hundred research institutes, universities and museums at home and abroad, and has set up dozens of scientific research and education bases in wildlife reserves and fossil production areas in China. The museum has undertaken more than a hundred research projects under the 863 Program, the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Beijing Natural Science Foundation.

NNHMC exhibitions have travelled to more than 20 countries and regions on six continents and has cooperated with more than 50 renowned universities and museums in over 30 countries and regions to conduct scientific research and exchange innovative science education projects. The museum have also organized international conferences including a parallel forum of the Zhongguancun Forum and the International Symposium on Mesozoic Mammals, highlighting the momentum of China's natural history museums in the new era.

NNHMC designs its educational programs and curriculums on the basis of its exhibitions, collections and research to communicate science and promote science-based approaches to the public. The museum has designed various education programs that integrate science, art and culture, including a number of popular science brands, such as Night at the Museum, Fun Lab and Little Research Intern Training Course. A mobile science platform, incorporating functions such as exhibition, dome movie and lectures, has been developed and designed by the museum and has entered more than 200 schools and communities. NNHMC continuously innovates its cooperation with schools and has served hundreds of thousands of students and community residents. In the 1980s, the museum founded the magazine China Nature, a popular science journal. In the past ten years, our professionals have published more than 200 science books.

NNHMC has always adhered to the principle of popularizing science and serving the public. On top of its collection, research, exhibition and science education programs, the museum keeps innovating and forging ahead, displaying natural resources endemic to China, promoting the harmonious co-existence of human and nature, advancing the construction of ecological civilization and making new contributions to the Chinese path to modernization.

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