Shanghai Museum

Shanghai Museum| China

Shanghai Museum

The day following the ‘smog from hell’ I was still on my own so I took myself off to the Shanghai Museum.

The air was still pretty unpleasant so the calmly lit, air-conditioned interior was heavenly.

The slick museum was built in the 1990s and was designed to resemble a ‘Ding’, a traditional cooking vessel. It stands in an excellent location on People’s Square.

I began my self-guided tour of the museum in the Ancient Chinese Bronze gallery, and it was a lot more fascinating than it sounds!

There were many marvelous and beautiful exhibits, some of which dated back 1500 years.

Ancient Chinese Bronzes

Ancient Chinese Bronzes

My favourite piece was a bronze mirror from the Han Dynasty {BC 206}. Of of only three known mirrors like this, the bronze was polished to a reflective shine yet also had a magical effect.

The mirror was slightly convex and had an etched design on the reverse, unseen to the naked eye.

Light could be shone through the mirror and the design projected onto a wall, a remarkable achievement in mirror design.

There were also beautiful bells, set on wooden frames, gorgeous inlaid wine vessels and ‘dou’ {food vessels}.

A ceramic pillow with a little house underneath, charming!

A ceramic pillow with a little house underneath, charming!

The ceramics on the second floor were equally extraordinary and spanned millennia.

I was particularly taken with a pretty Tibetan vase, so colourful and jolly.

Much of the collection was very old yet timeless. The ceramic figurines were bewitching to view, such characterful faces that reminded me a lot of the Terracotta Warriors.

Shanghai Museum| ChinaOn the third floor was a fascinating seal gallery. These seals ranged from tiny wooden ones to large ceramic pieces.

The stamp design cut into them were script, text or symbolic images, the styles evolving over time.

Many were decorative on the outside too, carved or shaped into animals or shapes, some could even be worn as jewellery.

Shanghai Museum| ChinaThe Jade Gallery had some quirky pieces alongside the more traditional ware seen throughout China.

The top floor had a wonderful gallery devoted to the many minority cultures of China.

Beautiful traditional clothes and artifacts were well displayed, from wooden fishing boats to masks and fabrics.

It was all so colourful and absorbing.

The Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty furniture gallery next door smelt deliciously of old polished wood.

Minority Cultures, a fishing boat.

Minority Cultures, a fishing boat.

This was the only museum I visited in China and I found it covered a lot of Chinese history and culture.

It certainly opened my eyes to the beauty and breadth of Chinese art and design.

And it was free! >> Don’t forget to take your passport with you though, for free admission.

Shanghai Museum| China

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9 Responses

  1. Dave Rowley says:

    Looks like a beautiful building, very modern, and I was surprised to hear it’s from 1990s. And glad you found an indoor place to get away from the smog. Normally we might think of “rainy-day” activities, but you had to find a smoggy-day activity! My favorite pics are the bronzes, especially the ones with cows with huge horns. Amazing what people were able to produce, so long ago! And also very nice that museum admission was free!

    • I loved all the cow pieces too, I must have, I had the most photos of them than the other pieces! They were so detailed and fun, and so well exhibited.
      All you needed was your passport to enter the museum, that’s my kind of rainy-day/smog-avoidance activity!

  2. Jorie says:

    All the artifacts are so pretty! I love that the building is shaped like cookware!

  3. Looks great! I once saw a travelling exhibition of Chinese artifacts here in Gent – quite similar to the things in the museum you visited in Shangai. It amazed me to see how impressive their culture already was while we here were still living in caves…

    • Wow, you saw them at home, saves some travel money but then inspires you to go to the country of origin eh!
      Yes, I marvelled at some of the pieces, I had similar feelings viewing stuff in Egypt. Incredible detail and technology, way ahead of time!