The government of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) has used museums to construct collective identity and national history narratives since its birth in 1949, but the revolutionary era narratives it once employed are now outdated, and new ones have been introduced. Two of these new narratives are found almost exclusively in the northern border regions of Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and the Northeast (Manchuria), where the PRC has had differing success at integrating its minority ethnic populations into the state. The first of these new narratives stresses the historicity of the PRC’s multicultural composition, and the second attempts to bolster the legitimacy of PRC control over its vast territory by positioning the “Chinese” state as having inhabited its current borders since the early Western Han Dynasty, ca. 150 BCE. I am examining cultural heritage interpretation found in museums in these border regions to investigate the differing ways that the PRC is legitimizing itself by repositioning its history and relationships with its ethnic minorities to project an image of an expansive, unified, multicultural state that existed in the deep past. I am using anthropological and museological approaches to examine this issue and offer new perspectives on the PRC’s relationships with its ethnic minorities, and a new approach to look at national-provincial (or national-autonomous region) and provincial-local relationships. I am examining museums at different administrative levels in terms of local, regional and national pressures and concerns to compare and contrast responses to these pressures, with a focus on how these administrative levels allow museums more or less agency to present their interpretations. This approach allows me to offer nuanced and informed opinions on why museums at different levels in Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, and Liaoning can give viewers very different introductions to their regions, some of which can even subvert interpretations offered at museums of different administrative levels. Moreover, I also examine the objects on display from the perspective of my archaeological background and discuss the sometimes ambiguous roles they can play in these interpretations. Lastly, I offer suggestions why museum interpretation in the northern non- ethnic Han border regions differs from that in the PRC’s southwest where similarly large non-Han populations live.