The Shanghai Museum | Attraction Guides | History Hit

The Shanghai Museum

Huangpu, Huangpu District, China

Lucy Davidson

09 Apr 2021

About The Shanghai Museum

The Shanghai Museum is a museum of ancient Chinese art in Shanghai in China. From calligraphy and seals known as ‘chops’ to ancient coins and its celebrated bronze exhibition, the Shanghai Museum has pieces dating back to prehistoric times and through to the Qing Dynasty.

The Shanghai Museum also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in China.

History of The Shanghai Museum

The Shanghai Museum is considered one of China’s first world-class modern museums.  It was first founded in 1952 and was located at the former Shanghai Racecourse club house.

The founding collection was collated from three principal sources: artefacts gathered by the communists during the civil war which were then brought to Shanghai, artefacts confiscated by customs, and items sold by private collectors to the government due to political pressure and purges.

The museum’s collection was enriched over the following years due to other private and institutional collections in Shanghai. This included incorporating collections from other  museums into its main body, due to foreign organisations and museums moving out of the city in the 1950s.

Due to the strain of an ever-growing collection, a bigger museum was required, so the museum was rebuilt in its current location in 1996, and today is situated on the People’s Square in the busy Huangpu District of Shanghai.

Designed by local architect Xing Tonghe, the building is designed in the shape of an ancient bronze cooking vessel called a ding. The building has a round top and a square base, symbolizing the ancient Chinese perception of the world as ’round sky, square earth’.

The Shanghai Museum Today

Today, visitors can enjoy the museum’s collection of over 120,000 pieces, which includes ceramics, bronze, calligraphy, furniture, jades, ancient coins, seals, sculptures, paintings, minority art, and foreign art.

The museum also houses several items of national importance, including three exact specimens of a ‘transparent’ bronze mirror from the Han Dynasty. It also houses an important collection of ancient coins from the Silk Road, which contains 1783 pieces from the Greeks to the Mongol Empire.

It is probably impossible to see all that the museum has to offer in one day. The nearby Shanghai People’s Square has an abundance of shops and restaurants to enjoy alongside a museum of such significance.

Getting to The Shanghai Museum

The Shanghai Museum is an 11 minute walk from the centre of Shanghai, which is around the People’s Square Residential District. It is also reachable in under 5 minutes by car, but due to the high volume of people in the area it would be better to walk, wherever possible.

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