Shanghai Museum

The museum has over 120,000 pieces of ancient chinese art and is arranged in line with Feng Shui principles,

TravelCurious Tip

The collection is too big for one trip. Pick a couple of sections, whether they’re calligraphy, jades or bronzes, and really give them the time they deserve

Given China’s rich 5000 year history, it should really have better museums than it does — but the Shanghai Museum is one of its best. Found on the People’s Square, it is full of ancient Chinese art. The founding collection came mainly from confiscations by the Communist army and items sold by private collectors to the government due to political pressure during the purges. But in spite of its origins, it’s a collection you can’t miss.

The building is unmistakeable: it resembles an ancient Chinese ding vessel, with a round dome atop a square base that symbolises the ancient idea of a round heaven and a square land. Within it, the collection contains over 120,000 pieces. These include bronze works, lacquer furniture, ceramics, calligraphy, sculptures and precious jade carvings. The problems with lighting, curating and comically bad translations that dog other Chinese museums will not be found here: the Shanghai Museum is exemplary, by all standards.

Some of the museum’s pieces are national treasures. For example, it holds one of only three examples of a “transparent” bronze mirror from the Han Dynasty. But its two most precious works are an ancient cooking vessel emblazoned with a dragon pattern of the Shang Dynasty and an extravagantly free cursive style calligraphy work of The Red Cliff Ode.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Shanghai
People's Square
This spectacular space in the heart of the city is a hub of activity.
Yuyuan Garden and Bazaar
Visit the garden then get lost in the bustling bazaar where vendors sell their wares in hidden lanes.
The Bund
As the city's stand out landmark, this remarkable waterfront is perfect for strolling and people-watching.
Heavenly Light Lane
Learn more about Shanghai's history here on the first street to have public electronic light in the city.
Anren Street
Stroll through the few remaining laneway houses and see traditional community living that is fast disappearing.
Grey Gardens
Also known as 'The Secluded Library', these enchanting gardens were built for the Lu family in 1763.

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