Discover The Forbidden City With Your Family


A family looking at a painting

Special Forbidden City Experiences for Kids

  • Walk the Family Trails: Uncover the stories of the Royal Family and discover the symbolism used within the palace walls
  • Go on a Treasure Hunt: Look for some of the cool treasures including a rare chicken cup worth $32 million dollars!
  • Hands-on Experiences: The touchable reproductions are always a favourite with our youngest visitors.
  • At-Home Activities: Make an Imperial Court Hat fit for a visit to The Forbidden City.
  • Plan Ahead: Let us help you plan your visit with a few tips for families.

Attention Teachers! The Forbidden City exhibition offers a curriculum based experience for your class. Visit our Schools/Education section for more information.


Family Trails and More

Uncover the stories of The Forbidden City with one of our Family Trails.  Take one, or more, with you as you journey through the gates…

Family Trail: The Royal Family of the Forbidden City (PDF)

Cover of Family Trail: The Royal Family

Imagine what life was like living in the largest palace complex in history. The Forbidden City was a palace, home to the emperors of China and their families.

In the past, ordinary citizens were forbidden to enter. Today, you can enter into the palace of the emperors of China in the ROM’s special exhibition and learn about their life in The Forbidden City though the amazing objects and art found inside.


Family Trail: Auspicious Symbols (PDF)

Did you know the dragon with five claws on his feet was a symbol used only by the Emperor? Or, that civilian officials wore bird symbols, and military officials wore animal symbols?

Symbols were found on the clothes the royal family wore, on the objects they used, and in the spaces they lived. They could be anything – flowers, animals, birds, numbers, or even just patterns – but each meant something very important.

Kids can travel through the exhibition, identifying the symbols outlined in our Auspicious Symbols Family Trail, and discover how symbols were a big part of the lives of those who lived and worked within the walls.

Cool Treasures

Who knew there would be so many cool objects in The Forbidden City? Check out the list below of things you can see in the exhibition.

Chicken cupChicken Cup
This Ming porcelain Chicken Cup is very rare! Only a few still exist today, making it one of the most prized objects in the exhibition.




Dog OutfitFit for a Dog
People weren't the only ones with grand robes in The Forbidden City. Court ladies loved dogs, and even had special silk robes, like this one, made for them.




Cricket JarCricket Jar
Crickets were well looked after in The Forbidden City. This little jar was made for six-year-old Emperor Tongzhi. It contained nine small stackable containers to hold the crickets.



After their studies, royal children played in the Inner Court. Popular games included block puzzles, like this, which had 35 pieces to assemble into a complete picture..




ice boxIce Box
Icy air came from this box to keep the emperor cool in the hot summer months. When ice was put inside, the cool air would drift out of holes in the top, and the melted water would drain out the bottom. Cool !



hand warmerHand Warmer
Although this hand warmer was only for decoration, real ones like this were filled with hot charcoal to keep hands warm.





key to gatesKey to the Gates
Called a Tally, these were shown to the imperial palace gate guards. If the writing on your tally matched the writing on the tally the guard had, you could enter. If not, the gates stayed closed.






Manchu women didn't bind their feet, but wanted to walk with the short steps bound feet produced, so they put their shoes on platforms – sometimes over 10 centimetres high - like these.



Bats VaseBat Vase
Bats were considered emblems of good luck and prosperity in Chinese culture. If you look closely, one hundred bats decorate this vase!









images: © The Palace Museum


Hands-on Experiences

family audience examining an artifact

The exhibition offers interactive experiences popular with families. Reproductions of some of the luxurious and everyday treasures from the imperial palace provide children hands-on interactions with objects. And look for graphic illustrations uncovering the story of the life behind the palace walls!

At-Home Activities

These fun at-home activities include step-by-step instructions and video.  Follow along then tweet a picture of your creation with @ROMkids by tagging your photo with #ROMKidsFC

Make an Imperial Court Hat

A fun at-home activity for families inspired by the beautiful court hats worn by the imperial family inside the Forbidden City. 


Make a Court Robe

The clothing worn by the Imperial family was beautiful to look at, but the symbols used in a court robe also told an important story. Learn about the symbols used in the Forbidden City and design your own court robe. 


Tips for Families

A mother and daughter looking at an ornate object

Let us help you plan your visit to ensure a fun and memorable family outing!

#1 Avoid the Lines

Buy tickets online before your visit and proceed to the express entry point when your arrive.

#2 Family Value all Year Long

Buy a ROM Family Membership and get unlimited entry to the ROM throughout the year, for free! Your Membership includes free entry to The Forbidden City.

Become a Member now, or sign-up onsite the day of your visit. If you’ve had a great time and want to come back, visit the Admissions Desk before you leave and we’ll refund your admission towards the cost of a Membership.

#3 Engage the Kids with The Forbidden City

Take a Family Trail with you on your visit. Family Trails help bring this mysterious imperial complex and the people who lived there to life for your kids!

#4 Take a Load Off 

Exchange your larger stroller for a smaller umbrella stroller at the Coat Check for $2 (subject to availability). Please check large bags and knapsacks for free in the Coat Check… they won’t be allowed in. Coats can be checked for $2.

#5 Hungry?

Druxy's ROMCafé on Level B1, Philosopher's Walk Wing offers fresh affordable dining choices for the whole family!

Prefer to bring your lunch? Eat in our Brown Bag Lunchroom on Level B1, Queen's Park Wing. The Lunchroom includes vending machines for your convenience. 

Help us keep our collections safe … please no eating elsewhere in the Museum.