Introducing Shanghai Museum
Located in the center of Shanghai in People’s Square, Shanghai Museum is a distinguished architectural combination of traditional culture and modern spirit, making it unique among many museums in the world. As a large museum of ancient Chinese art, the Shanghai Museum boasts a rich and high-quality collection of 120,000 precious works of art including ancient Chinese bronze, ceramics, painting and calligraphy is specially celebrated in the world.
Shanghai Museum Fast Facts
• Chinese Name: Shanghai Bowuguan 上海博物馆
• Best Time to Visit: All year around
• Recommended Visiting Hours: About 2 to 3 hours
• Things to Do: Photography, Architecture, Ancient Chinese Art
• Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 09:00-17:00
• Entrance Fee: Free
• Address: No. 201, Renmin Avenue, Huangpu District, Shanghai
What to expect at Shanghai Museum
History of the Museum
The Shanghai Museum was founded in 1952，originally located at the old Shanghai Race Club, 325 West Nanjing Road, since when it has steadily developed. The Shanghai Museum was relocated in the old Zhonghui Building, 16 South Henan Road in October 1959. In 1992, the Shanghai Municipal Government decided to allocate People Square, the very center of the city, as the new site of Shanghai Museum.
The construction of the new premises of the Shanghai Museum started in August 1993 and was completed and opened to the public on October 12, 1996. Covering a total area of 39,200m2, with a height of 29.5m, the round celestial dome and the square earth base which symbolize the philosophy of a spherical heaven and a square earth, form an extraordinary visual effect. It is a distinguished architectural combination of traditional culture and modern spirit, making her unique among many museums in the world. The new Shanghai Museum has ten galleries for permanent collections and three temporary exhibition spaces. The Shanghai Museum extends a warm welcome to visitors from all over the world.
Masterpieces in the Museum
Due to the large number of cultural relics on display, and the limited visiting time, visitors must be quite concerned about how to appreciate some of the best works in each gallery during the tour. The following are cultural relics of special significance. They are remarkable for their craftsmanship and appearance.
Ancient Chinese Bronze Gallery (F1)
Yue (weapon) Inlaid with Cross Pattern: Dated from Late Xia (18th – 16th century BC) , this broad-axe is thick and solid, inlaid with delicate and beautiful decorations which are very well preserved. Yue is a long-handled arc-bladed hacking weapon, as well as an instrument of torture.
Jia (wine vessel) with Animal-mask Design: Jia is a wine vessel used for sacrificial rituals. The surface of the vessel is decorated with animal-mask motif with dense and exaggerated lines, showing a mysterious and dignified style. It is the only piece with such decoration among the existing bronze Jia of the mid-Shang dynasty.
Ya Hu Square Lei (large wine vessel): Lei is a large wine vessel commonly seen in the late Shang and mid-Western Zhou dynasties. Bronze art saw its peak in the late Shang dynasty. This piece of work is imposing and dignified, exquisite and magnificent, standing out among all its kind.
Jia Gui (food vessel): Gui, as a food vessel, had gradually become a major artifact in the bronze sacrificial wares after its advent in the early Shang. Bird-like patterns are often used to adorn the rims on the rectangular walls of the vessels of the late Shang and early Zhou. The inscription of the only word Jia found in the inner base is the name of the owner.
Da Ke Ding (food vessel): Da Ke Ding was excavated in cellar of Famen Temple, Fufeng County, Shaanxi province in Guangxu reign period. It is the master treasure of the Shanghai Museum collection, also a widely cited and world-famous national treasure. With its majestic and stately shape, smooth and grand decoration, this Ding perfectly integrates the pictorial and sculptural art of that time.
Pan (water vessel) of Zi Zhong Jiang: Pan is a water container used to contain the used water after ritual washing at sacrificial ceremonies and banquets during the Shang and Zhou periods. The interior is decorated with many aquatic animals, either in relief or three-dimension. The most extraordinary feature is that all the round-carved animals can be swiveled in 360 degrees. It is an unprecedented wonderful creation.
Bells of Marquis Su of Jin: Unearthed at the tomb of the Marquis of Jin, Beizhao Village, Quwo County, Shanxi province in 1992, this set of musical chimes with a total of 16 pieces, can be divided into two groups, with 8 pieces for each. Lining up according to size, these pieces can form two rows of chimes with harmonious scales and rhythms. With a total of 355 characters inscriptions carved, this is the first of its kind in the bronze inscription in the Western Zhou.
Ox-shaped Zun (wine vessel): This piece of work is modeled like a water buffalo. Judging from its structure, it is a wine-warming vessel. Hot water can be poured into the hollow belly to heat the wine in the pot-shaped container on the back. Modeling wine vessel Zun in animal shapes is a unique feature of Chinese bronzes.
The vessel looks dignified.
Drum Stand with Openwork Coiled Dragon Design: The drum stand is a hemispheroid with ring-foot. The raised hollow cylinder in the centre is used to insert the drum column. Twelve intertwined circular engraved coiled dragons scramble on the hemispherical drum surface. The dragon head holding a ring in its mouth is carved in the round and the dragon bodies are of high relief. It is a model of the combination of casting and sculptural art.
Cowrie Container with Eight Yaks: Cowrie container is a special bronze ware of the Dian people of Yunnan area. It got its name because it contained money cowrie when unearthed, with eight yaks of different gestures on the cover. The vessel is shaped like a wasp-waisted cylinder with a big yak and seven small yaks cast on the cover. Unearthed at Lijiashan, Jiangchuan, Yunnan province, this relic is an iconic artifact reflecting the characteristics of Yunnan bronze culture.
Ancient Chinese Sculpture Gallery (F1)
Figurine Playing Lute: This pottery figurine from Sichuan is red in color due to the local soil. The head and body were molded separately and joined at the neck. The vivid and lively appearance of the figurine fully reflects the relaxed and pleasant mood and expression of the player who was immersed in the melody.
Buddhist Stele Erected by Wang Longsheng and Others: This Buddhist stele is so named because it is engraved with its pilgrims’ names: Wang Longsheng and others. It is carved in bas-relief. The carving of this stele is lively and vivid, embodied with complex contents, presented mainly through the skillful craft of bas-relief, with the carving on the back and the sides delicate and refined as well.
Shakyamuni Buddha: The statue is carved from a white marble. H Shakyamuni Buddha looks graceful and elegant, with a clear, wise and kind expression, bearing a bright, intelligent and kind look, coupled with the fine and magnificent backlight, which creates a solemn harmonious feeling.
Group of Three Amitabha Buddhas: The common bronze Buddha statue usually appears as a single piece, while this piece of work is presented in the form of an altar table, showing a sense of dimensional space, as if it is unfolding the Buddhist world in front of us. This triple statue of Amitabha shows exquisite workmanship.
Bodhisattva: This kneeling Bodhisattva, made from white marble with meticulous craft, looks quiet and sweet with a full face and downward looking eyes. The long dress hung from the slim waist looks dynamic with vivid carving of the drapes. And the incomplete arms often associate with the grace of a Venus. This is a masterpiece of the Bodhisattva statues of the Tang dynasty.
Head of Kashyapa: Wooden statues of the Tang dynasty are extremely difficult to preserve. There is a hollow frame carved behind the niche of the wooden head of Kashyapa to support the halo on one hand, and unexpectedly prevents the wood from cracking on the other hand, allowing this work to be preserved till today. The paint peeled off over the long years and the wood grain was exposed, showing the beauty and simplicity of wood carving art.
How to get to Shanghai Museum
• Take Metro Line 1, Line 2, or Line 8 and get off at People’s Square Station (Exit 1).
• Take bus No. 46, 49, 123, 145, 312, 451 and get off at People’s Square Station.
Additional travel advice on Shanghai Museum
• The Museum is closed on Monday except Chinese public holidays.
• The Museum issues up to 8,000 free tickets per day.
• Keep your passport on you to claim the ticket.
• Photography is permitted but using flash or tripod is prohibited.
• The Shanghai Museum reserves the rights to charge on some special temporary exhibitions.