Shanghai Museum, The Gateway to Chinese Art History

Shanghai Museum is the exact place to go if you want to know more about ancient Chinese art. It is one of China’s largest and most sophisticated museums which is located on People’s Square in the Huangpu district in the heart of Shanghai. If you love both art and history, this is a must-see when visiting Shanghai. The building has been designed in a manner to show symbolic use of dome as a round heaven on a square land, which is an ancient Chinese perception of the world we have.


What is inside the Shanghai Museum?

Shanghai Museum has 11 galleries and three exhibition halls.

The 11 galleries include most of the Chinese art categories with focus on:

Bronze artifacts

These artifacts are mostly from the Zhou and Shang dynasties and help you get a better understanding of China’s ancient societies and civilizations. This part of the museum has more than 400 pieces, which show the Chinese bronze art from the past.

Ceramics artifacts

One of the precious collections you would definitely like in the Shanghai museum is the ceramics collection. This collection includes over 500 pieces of art from different dynasties throughout Chinese history. These artifacts come in different colors and looks, which shows you how different eras of time are different in their artwork.


Here you can find unique paintings with very different styles, shapes, and genres. They can shed new light on how you perceive the Chinese culture. Here you can see various masterpieces from different periods.


Chinese language and its uniqueness apart, when you write it with an artistic side, that’s a whole new beauty. The calligraphies you can find in this museum are truly beautiful and something new for western eyes.


The sculptures you can see there are mostly Buddhist ones alongside a few others. One of these sculptures is a particularly good one, a stone stele named Thousand-Buddha.


China has an old history with jade, and still, you can see jade factories working in modern China. Jade has been a symbol of power and wealth since ancient China and has a decorative use too. Another aspect of jade is being the symbol of morality. The jade collection of the museum will attract you with both their style and of course the color.


It’s quite fascinating to know that China has been one of the first countries to use the currency. The coin collection of the Shanghai Museum has 7,000 pieces which tell how the Chinese currency developed in time. You can also get a sense of Chinese growth of economic exchange with other foreign countries.


The furniture on display belong to the Qing and Ming dynasties when the wonder days of Chinese furniture were happening. In the museum, there is an area like a garden residence that looks like the olden time, and you can get a better understanding of Chinese culture.


Seals are not much in use now, but they were vital in ancient China where they developed the first ones. The seals’ collection of the museum reveals what level of importance they used to have in ancient China and different periods.

Minority and foreign art

China is a vast country, and this makes its culture a mixture of many different people. Throughout China’s long history, many minorities have developed their own culture and art in areas such as clothing, fabrics, sculptures, pottery, etc. These different styles in art give you a general sense toward understanding ethnic groups.


How it became a valuable museum?

The first collections of the museum came from three primary sources:

1. Many artifacts were confiscated from private collections or found accidentally and gathered by from the Communist field army during the civil war and were brought to Shanghai when the Communists’ conquered the city.
2. Artifacts and items which were confiscated by the customs service.
3. Items bought by the government form private collectors during a political pressure time.
Also, there used to be a Shanghai municipal museum which was merged and formed the Shanghai museum.
During later times the museum enriched its collection and now has over 120,000 pieces inside. How to reach Shanghai Museum?

By metro:
Find Line 1, Line 2, or Line 8 and get off at People’s Square Station. Go out of the station from Exit 1 and then walk south for about five minutes.
By bus:
Find bus 46, 49, 123, 145, 312, 451 or Shangchuan Special Line and get off at People’s Square Station.
Take Tunnel Line 6 and get off at Wushenglu Xizang Zhonglu Station.


When to visit the Shanghai Museum?

Opening Hours start at 9:00 to 17:00 but remember the last opportunity for entry is at 16:00.
Visiting days are from Tuesday to Sunday and Mondays the museum is closed (except on official holidays)
How to buy tickets?
Museum of Shanghai is also free of charge, and you don’t need to buy a ticket to enter, but this only applies to 8000 people per day.
You can also get an audio tour for the museum available in Chinese, English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese and Korean.
To rent the audio tour set: 40 Yuan/set, with a deposit of either 400 Yuan, 50 USD or a passport.

There is a Chinese saying that translates, “it is better to see for oneself than to hear many times.” So if you ever set foot in Shanghai, don’t miss the chance to visit the museum and witness the beauties of Chinese culture.

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