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Shanghai Museum

Shanghai Museum
Building Style of Shanghai Museum

China Museums is well known all over the world via several representatives like Beijing Imperial Palace, Shenyang Imperial Palace, Shaanxi History Museum, Nanjing Museum and Shanghai Museum. Among these top museums, Shanghai museum is the youngest but has the fastest development, thanks to the strongest financial support from Shanghai Municipal Government. A great many collections are directly bought overseas or from other museums in the world. The most famous case is purchasing Chun Hua Ge Tie(淳化阁帖, a famous calligraphy collection book of North Song Dynasty) at the cost of 4,500,000 US dollars in 2003. Nowadays, Shanghai museum has been a must-see of Shanghai tourist attractions.

Shanghai museum is a large and comprehensive museum exhibiting Chinese ancient arts and culture. Collecting more than 120, 000 articles, and Shanghai museum has a displaying square of more than 2,800 square meters. The highlights of the collections in Shanghai museum are bronzeware, porcelains, calligraphic masterpieces and traditional Chinese paintings. Originally, Shanghai museum was established in 1952 at old Horse Race Club, today’s No. 325, Nanjing West Road. In 1959, it was moved to old Zhonghui Building, today’s No.16, Henan Central Road. In 1992, Shanghai museum was moved to the Renmin Square or People’s Square, the real downtown of Shanghai. The new building is highlighted with the traditional philosophical basics – The Circular Universe and Square Earth(天圆地方), so it is easily accessible to see the outside shape of building, which looked like a ring if looked in the bird’s- eye view. The base of the museum is quite featured with a square connecting with the Renmin Square. The wall color is yellow, which symbolizes the virtue of earth(土德), and this virtue is highly emphasized and taken as the most important one in Chinese traditional philosophy.

Shanghai museum sculpture
The sculpture of Shanghai museum strongly features the oriental aesthetics in the aspect of sculpture different from it in west

Shanghai museum consists of several exhibition halls: China Bronze-ware Display, China Porcelain Display, China Painting Display as well as China Ancient Sculpture Display. The permanent exhibitions including: the well-preserved bronze ware exhibition, six-thousand-year art exhibition of China, well-preserved porcelain exhibition, Ming-Qing Dynasties calligraphy exhibition, painting exhibition of eight eccentric painters(扬州八怪) as well as the study exhibition of scholars in late Ming Dynasty are quite welcome among travelers.

Shanghai museum is mainly made up of three floors plus an underground store. The first floor is the lobby or hall as well as the themed exhibition hall of the ancient bronze wares; the second floor is the exhibition hall of ancient porcelains and ancient paintings, as well as the tea house; the third floor is the exhibition hall of the ancient calligraphy masterpieces. The fourth floor is the arts and crafts display of Chinese minorities, Chinese ancient jade display, Chinese coin display and furniture display of Ming and Qing Dynasties. The underground store collects the treasures of Shanghai museum. By the way, the restroom is available easily on each floor.

The bronze ware collection is one part of the highlights of Shanghai museum. The majority of these bronze wares were from several important collectors of late Qing Dynasty in Jiangnan region, and the representative is Da Ke Ding(大克鼎, The Vessel of Great Victory). Also, the Bao You(保卣) and Zhao You(召卣, the Ancient Wine Vessel ) are the vital historic evidence in historian circle and ancient bronze inscription study circle. In the exhibition hall of the porcelains, visitors can see the prehistoric delicate ceramics themed with Liangzhu Primitive Culture. From the gate to the interior room, the porcelains displayed as the timeline of China Dynasty. The raw handmade vessels of the primitive period, the huge and significant ceramics of Han Dynasty themed with the lifelike figures or houses, the Tang Dynasty’s splendid porcelains and Tang San Cai and the treasured porcelains of Ming and Qing Dynasties are all impressively shown.

Shanghai museum sculpture
The small sculptures themed with Buddhism culture in Shanghai Museum

Shanghai is the center of traditional Jiangnan region, where Chinese elite culture is the mainstream; the elegant calligraphic and painting culture is the direct show the regional enchantment. In some way, the calligraphy and painting is the representative of traditional elite culture of China. The collection of calligraphy and paintings of ancient China covers nearly a half of whole relevant collection in east China region. In calligraphy, the most valued is Ya Tou Wan Tie(鸭头丸贴), inscribed by Wang Xianzhi, the son of Wang Xizhi who was the writer of Lan Ting Xu and crowned to be the Calligraphy Sage, Qian Zi Wen Juan(千字文卷), inscribed by Gao Xian in Tang Dynasty, Ku Sun Tie(苦笋贴), inscribed by Huai Su(怀素, a famous literate monk specializing in free script of calligraphy in Tang Dynasty, and his influence was quite large and directly impacted on the calligraphic style of Chairman Mao. His diligence had him be famous for his brush tomb and writing on the Basho leaf). As for the painting, Gao Yi Tu (高逸图, highly respected recluses painting)created by Sun Wei of Tang Dynasty, Xia Shan Tu Juan(夏山图卷, the summer mountain painting scroll) created by Dong Yuan in Five Dynasties, Ba Gao Seng Gu Shi Tu Juan(八高僧故事图卷, eight respectable monks’ stories painting scroll) and the fabulous paintings of Ming and Qing Dynasties also highly deserve appreciation. The greatest masters of painting and calligraphy such as Su Dongpo and Zhao Mengfu are also easily available.The ancient coins, ancient jades, ancient seals and ancient carvings are all the special collection in this museum. The furniture collection is also a spotlight in Shanghai museum. The related famous collectors were Wang Shixiang(王世襄) and Chen Mengjia(陈梦家).

Shanghai museum is free of charge, but it has a working time. Visitors had better travel there during its working time. If you just take an interest in the collection and have a superficial tour. Two or three hours are sufficient. If you plan to take a deep and professional visit to Shanghai museum, you had better spend a week at least. Anyway, it is the world of ancient collection with five thousand years. By the way, in summer, it is a little bit cold in museum; visitors had better put on some thicker clothes.

the preserved painting of Shanghai museum
A preserved painting created by Zhao Mengfu
the wine vessel made of bronze
Bronze-Made Wine Vessel



The lobby of Shanghai Museum
The Lobby of Shanghai Museum
the costume of China minority
The Costumes of China Ethnic Groups




Writer: David from Seeraa International
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