On a recent trip to Beijing I had the chance to drop into the National Museum of China on the east side of Tiananmen Square for a quick look around. According to its website, it was 'founded' in 2003 after a merger between the National Museum of Chinese History and the National Museum of the Chinese Revolution. But apparently it was so badly run, Beijing decided in 2007 to close the place for a huge renovation that reportedly cost 2.5 billion yuan (HK$2.96 billion). It reopened in March and the spending shows. The contemporary interior design, big glass windows, the architecture and spaciousness all give the impression of grandeur. It's, well, very mainland Chinese. 'As the world's largest museum featuring world-class facilities,' museum director Lu Zhangshen says in his welcome note on the website, 'NMC will provide the public with excellent arts and history exhibitions, as well as other leisure services. Not only has the museum amassed 5,000 years of Chinese art and cultural heritage, the museum itself is testimony to the Chinese road to revival in the past century.' If all that sounds like official propaganda, that's because it is. And there is plenty more inside, not least in an exhibition titled 'Masterpieces of Modern Chinese Fine Arts from the National Museum Collection'. Consisting of 57 oil paintings, 11 traditional Chinese paintings and 14 sculptures 'about historical and revolutionary themes', this is propaganda art that's rarely shown outside the country. Jin Shangyi's Mao Zedong at the December Meeting offers a glorified version of a young Chairman Mao, and you can play 'spot the differences' with Dong Xiwen's Founding Ceremony of the People's Republic of China, which was 'reworked' at least three times to bring it into political line. Another main attraction is the permanent exhibition called 'Ancient China'. It shows more than 2,500 rare artefacts in chronological order from prehistoric times right up to the Ming and Qing dynasties. I only saw up to Qin and Han dynasties and didn't want to leave - the sheer quantity and quality of the historical items is staggering. But anyone looking for interpretations of Chinese history - from ancient to contemporary periods (such as the Great Leap Forward or June 4 Tiananmen Square crackdown) will not find anything in this museum. There is also a big exhibition showcasing collections from three German museums and, oddly enough, a retrospective on the Italian watch and jewellery company Bulgari. But such is contemporary China today - don't think or ask questions, just buy and consume.