Tianqiao area is best known for its vibrant acrobatic and performing arts scene. Lying inside Changchun Temple in the Tianqiao neighborhood, Xuannan Cultural Museum doesn’t draw big crowds with its low-key presentation, yet provides a real taste of Xuannan culture.
Xuannan, or “south of Xuanwumen”, refers to the area southwest of the Forbidden City, including historical blocks such as Tianqiao, Niujie, Dashila, and Liulichang, an area fostering a unique cultural atmosphere that still thrives to this day, making Xuannan culture famous throughout China.
Renovated from Changchun Temple, which was built during the 20th year of the Wanli Emperor’s reign in the Ming Dynasty (1592), the museum opened its doors to the public in 2005. The bright redbrick complex houses eight exhibition halls, each shedding light on a specific aspect of Xuannan culture, such as the opera industry and commerce. The section celebrating the Eight Eccentrics of Tianqiao (天桥八怪 tiān qiáo bā guài), a group of famed folk artists active between the 1910s to 1950s, transports visitors back to that booming time for the Tianqiao area, and to its lively, bustling streets.
The museum also features modern performing arts, including statues of crosstalk titan Hou Baolin and opera artist Wei Xikui, with an explanation of the artforms’ history and development.
Another important element of Xuannan culture is the temple fairs, lined with stalls selling all kinds of crafts and snacks. The area’s landmark buildings back then including the provincial residences built for scholars coming to Beijing for the imperial exams which took place every three years.
Check here for a visual view of the whole museum.
Xuannan Cultural Museum
9am-4.30pm Tue-Sun; Free (ID card or passport required); No.9 Changchun Jie, Xicheng District 西城区长椿街9号