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.

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