Museums: The largest & the smallest in the world

3 min read

Architecture has always been characterized by contrasts. The two extremes of large and small are particularly exciting - even in the world of museums. The Mmuseumm in downtown Manhattan and the Chinese National Museum in Beijing form a unique duo. One is tiny and modest, the other monumental and majestic. But both offer an unforgettable cultural experience in their own way.

The Mmuseumm: an oasis of curiosities

Tucked away in a narrow street in Lower Manhattan is probably the smallest museum in the world - the Mmuseumm. It was founded in 2012 by Alex Kalman, Ben Sisto and Josh Safdie and invites visitors into a tiny, former freight elevator that is only around 60 centimetres wide. It exhibits curious everyday objects that often have a fascinating origin - including finds from the Pacific, supposed bombs that weren't bombs and stolen tip tins.

If you want to find out the stories behind these contemporary curiosities, you can listen to a free audio guide. However, the room is so small that just three people can fit inside and visitors often have to get very close to the exhibits - a special experience that inspires and surprises. Since 2018, there has even been a small "souvenir store" in a slightly lower window. This unique museum is only open on Saturdays and Sundays and admission is free. However, if you leave a small donation, you will receive a paper guide with a poster of all the exhibits.

Chinese National Museum: A monument to history 

The Chinese National Museum in Beijing covers a total area of an impressive 192,000 square meters, making it the largest museum in the world in terms of floor space. It is located on the east side of Tiananmen Square and houses 49 exhibition halls. The extension and redesign was carried out by the renowned Hamburg architects Gerkan, Marg and Partners (gmp Architekten), who combined the former Chinese History Museum with the Chinese Revolutionary Museum into one coherent building complex and reinterpreted traditional Chinese architecture.

The imposing building was opened in 2011 and has been presenting the culture and history of China ever since. More than one million artefacts can be found in the spacious rooms, which take visitors on a journey from prehistoric times to industrialization. This makes the Chinese National Museum not only the largest, but also one of the most visited museums, as it recorded around 7,390,000 visitors in 2019.

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