Shanghai Museum

This is undoubtedly the finest museum in China as it contains some of the finest art collections in China. Travelers from all corners of the world and local residents as well flock to it in droves.

Given that most museums in China are not great either because a lot of the artwork was carted off by nationalists and invaders to other nations such as Taiwan and Britain or that the displays are not very pleasing, this museum is a welcome sight. You can explore Chinese history through the numerous relics the can be found here.

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Interesting Facts

-Its top is shaped like an antique Chinese cooking pot so it will be hard for you to miss it while in the city.

-Its square base and round dome shape of its exterior design, imply the ancient idea of a square land and round heaven.

-It has 4 levels and 11 galleries, which offer a captivating historical tour full of art that dates as far back as the 20th century.

-It is amongst the famous and loved museums if not the most famous in China.

-Select antiques include; furniture from the Ming and Qing period, paintings courting back to the Tang era, calligraphy from different periods and bronzes highlighting the Bronze Age.


Founded in 1952, it was initially situated at the clubhouse in the Shanghai Racecourse. A huge chunk of its first antiques came from collected pieces during the civil war; from private collections due to pressure by the regime, and impounded artefacts from customs.

In the years that followed, there has been relics from other sources such as the Royal Asiatic Society, other institutions, personal collections, donations, rescued bronze, purchases by the administration and archaeological finds. In 1959, it moved from the clubhouse to the Zhonghui House and after that to its present location after intense lobbying and fundraising by the then director (1985-1999) Ma Chengyuan. Ma was instrumental in getting the local administration and the government to fund the project.

It currently houses over 120,000 pieces and a few national items like the one of the only three surviving Han Dynasty transparent bronze mirror.

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Culture Of The Shanghai Museum

Bronze: Located on the first level, it has a variety of more than 400 pieces; it is the most treasured gallery. The pieces tell a story of the growth of bronze and its significance to the Chinese history from its start, uses, advancement of engineering techniques, and reparation of some of these pieces. Of course, the transparent bronze mirror is the highlight of them all. This piece is one of the only three surviving from the Han Empire, which is a rare national treasure housed here.

Coins: Did you know that China was amongst the leading countries to have coins as a means of trade? You will get to see a variety of dated coins used for trade in China, the Silk Road, and Asia. You will also get to know the beginning and how the coins were developed for trade purposes within China and with other foreign nations.

Ceramics: This section displays over 500 ceramic pieces from various periods. It includes painted and unpainted porcelain dating as far back as the Neolithic age. You will also get to see how most of these pieces were made.

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Furniture: Majority of the furniture here comes from the Ming and Qing period, which was the pinnacle of furniture design. The furniture will give you the experience of being an ancient garden in early times experiencing the Chinese customs and mannerisms. You will wish your furniture were more antique and elegant when you get back home.

Seals: Moving on, the seals will make you appreciate their importance in the past extending back to the Western Zhou Empire to the Qing Empire.

Calligraphy: Calligraphy is synonymous with Chinese culture. Here you will get to witness the advancement of calligraphy in the Chinese culture going back to the Shang Era (17-11 BC). Diverse pieces from various eras are on display, and you can enjoy the great and original calligraphy from various periods from China.

Sculptures: The key focus is on Buddhist sculptures as they are most attractive. From the sculptures, you get to study how Buddhism merged into Chinese culture.

Jades: Just as with precious stones in the modern world, throughout Chinese history, jades were,not only used as a show of power and wealth but also symbolised morality and were used for decorations, and creating of other articles. Jades on display include pieces courting back 11 BC.

Paintings: If you want to enjoy the best of Chinese artwork, then you’ll love the paintings here.  Most of these paintings go back before the Yuan dynasty and reveal the progression of the Chinese from these ancient times. You can enjoy this Chinese practice and several of its exquisite abilities on display.

Tips For Visiting Shanghai Museum

-All the art is showcased chronologically so it will be easier for you follow the different types of art through time.

-It is not too big in size so you can see all of it in one day.

-The entry line can at times get long so you will have to get there early to avoid wasting precious time in line.

-It is positioned at the people’s square so it should not be too hard to find.

-The gift shop is great with reasonable prices as well as a great selection of English books on history and art. Finally, entry is free!!

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