Forbidden City Is a Family-Friendly Adventure

Looking for an indoor family adventure?  Explore treasures of the Chinese emperors, while discovering stories about the family who lived in the largest palace in the world: The Forbidden City. In the past, ordinary citizens were not allowed into the imperial palace; however, today, you and your family can explore the Forbidden City at VMFA!

Get ready to explore . . .


This life-size portrait of the emperor riding his favorite horse greets you at entrance. Peer around the corner and you will find many items just like the ones shown in this portrait on display, such as his sword, bows and arrow, helmet, and even the ceremonial armor he is wearing!

Symbols of good luck adorn almost everything in the Forbidden City. One of the most auspicious symbols in Chinese culture is the dragon.  If you look closely at this armor, you will find dragons.

Beginning in very early times, Chinese rulers adopted the dragon as an imperial symbol. Emperors sat on dragon thrones, wore dragon robes, and sometimes even slept in dragon beds. Only the emperor’s clothes and other objects could feature dragons with five claws, while everyone else had to be content with three- or four-clawed dragons. Legend says that there are 9,999 dragons in the Forbidden City. While we may not have all 9,999 in our Forbidden City, we’re sure you can find quite a few!

From a grand set of bells and chimes to larger-than-life horses and creatures that are half lion/half unicorn, the next piece to make your child gasp in amazement is right around the corner. Make Forbidden City part of your family’s weekend plans!