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First Glimpses: Long-delayed Beijing Auto Museum Starts Trial Run after Extensive Design Changes


BEIJING - After years of delay Beijing Auto Museum finally opened to visitors on March 18 for a trial run, showcasing over 70 models and replicas of historical significance. During the two-month trial period, only groups with reservations will be admitted.

Located in the Fengtai district, in the southwestern part of the city, the government-run Being Auto Museum (not to be confused with the privately-run Beijing Classic Car Museum) was originally planned in 2001 as one of five major museums to be built in preparing for the 2008 Olympic Games, and the center piece of the future Beijing International Auto Exhibition Center.

In 2003, a design from Germany’s Henn Architekten and Canada’s B+H was chosen (shown in the first two pics below). Ground was broken in 2006, two years behind schedule. When the main structure took shape in 2008, no one talked about an Olympic opening anymore, or the International Auto Exhibition Center. What emerged was at best a caricature of the 2003 model. The curtailed building now we see loses all the appeals of the original design.

The museum has close to 50,000 square meters of interior space housing vehicles (including some remakes of "prototype cars" from ancient China), parts, books, photos and other materials for visitors to learn about the history of cars. The vehicle collection includes a replica of the three-wheeled 1885 Benz Motorwagen, a copy of the 1901 Duryea owned by Empress-Dowager Cixi, a 1902 Oldsmobile Curved Dash, a ZIS-101 given to Chairman Mao by the Soviet Union, and past Hongqi limousines, Shanghai sedans, and Beijing Jeeps

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