Shanghai Museum – Shanghai, Shanghai Province, China
Unique Pageant of Chinese Antiquities
In the 1930s Shanghai was known as the Paris of the Orient, and today, after a grim, revolutionary half-century, it’s once again a glittering boomtown and ready for business. The spectacular, award-winning Shanghai Museum reopened in 1995.
Created through a combination of Western expertise, overseas Chinese benefactors, and government funds, and designed by well-known local architect Xing Tonghe, it’s the world’s finest showcase of Chinese art and antiquities. More than 120,000 cultural relics – from paintings, sculpture, and calligraphy to furniture, jade and ivory carvings, ceramics, and minority arts – trace 5,000 years of China’s history, from the Neolithic Age through the Ming (1368—1644) and Qing (1644—1911) dynasties until modern times.
The beautifully configured, high-tech, and user-friendly space is three times larger than the original museum (which opened in 1952) and exhibitions are far superior to the old displays, which were dusty, poorly lit, and had Chinese-only descriptions.
In a growing city with a population of 14 million, convoys of well-scrubbed schoolchildren in brightly colored uniforms are commonplace sights here, filling the lobby and pouring down the outside steps in cultural overdrive. As a capper, the museum shop and antiques store are each among the city’s best.