Shanghai Museum






HUANGPU - People's Square


The Shanghai Museum is considered one of China's most important museums, which boasts a wide collection of cultural relics that have illustrated the rich history of the nation.

Established in 1996, this uniquely shaped museum is situated inside a parcel of green land, which was formerly part of the city's racecourse during the colonial age.

The building's architecture is quite significant, as the round shape of the top contrasts with the square base of the building, which figuratively conveys a Chinese traditional definition of "天圆地方 (a round heaven and a square earth)" which was the initial perception of the "universe". The round top is modeled on a giant bronze pot called "Ding 鼎" which is a container used only in aristocratic circles in ancient China. On the southern side of the museum, eight sacred animal statues flank the museum's entrance, posed to protect the treasures within.

The exhibitions are grouped into individual galleries, each with a distinct theme, spanning 4 floors.

Floor 1: The Gallery of Ancient Chinese Bronze, and the Gallery of Ancient Chinese Sculptures

Over 400 exhibits are showcased in the Bronze Gallery, narrating the development of bronze ware making technology over a wide span of history in ancient China (18th century B.C. – 3rd century B.C.). The exquisite patterns and inscriptions engraved on weapons, wares for households or ceremonies, and instruments can still be clearly seen, as if time has not touched them at all.

The Sculpture Gallery exhibits over 120 pieces of sculpture relics, illustrating how the sculpturing technique improved over a period of 2,100 years (475 B.C. – A.D. 1644). The majority of the sculptures are figures representing the Buddhist religion, which implies a strong cultural influence that Buddhism had on the society in ancient China.

Floor 2: The Gallery of Ancient Chinese Ceramics

The gallery is home to more than 500 pieces of pottery and porcelain, highlighting the evolution of one of China's most important cultural gifts to the world. The history of pottery and porcelain in China ceramic spans from the Neolithic age all the way to the Qing Dynasty; a total of 8,000 years. Works showcased include the painted potteries in the Neolithic Age, proto-celadon works in the Warring States Periods (770 – 221 B.C.), celadon glaze works in the Eastern Han Dynasty (A.D. 25 – 225), tri-colored glazed potteries of the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618 –907), blue and white porcelains of the Song Dynasty (A.D. 960 – 1279), and under-glazed porcelains of the Yuan Dynasty (A.D. 1279 – 1368).

Floor 3: Chinese Painting Gallery, Chinese Calligraphy Gallery, and Chinese Seal Gallery

The Painting Gallery contains 120 pieces of genuine works in its collection, showcasing various aesthetic characteristics of Chinese paintings. The artwork has been collected from the Tang (A.D. 618 – 907), Song (A.D. 960 – 1279), Yuan (A.D. 1279 – 1368), Ming (A.D. 1368 – 1644), and Qing (A.D. 1636 – 1912) dynasties, ranging from landscape painting, portrait painting, and flowers and birds painting.

The gallery has implemented many modern techniques to prevent these priceless artworks from getting worn, including motion-sensor illuminations, thermostat equipment, and humidity controls.

Calligraphy was, and still is, considered an extension of art expression, and is rooted in ancient China. Its history can be traced back thousands of years to the Shang Dynasty 商朝 (1562 B.C. – 1066 B.C.). There are over 70 calligraphy artworks exhibited in the Calligraphy Gallery, presenting various forms of inscriptions and how they changed over the years.  Engravings on the surface of a variety of objects such as oracle bones, bronze wares, bamboo strips, or stone tablets can be viewed, as can poems or letters written or painted on papers and scrolls.

In the Chinese Seal Gallery, a total of 500 seal relics are housed under exhibition, highlighting a history which spans from the Western Zhou Dynasty (1046 B.C. – 771 B.C.) to the late Qing Dynasty (1840 – 1912). 

Floor 4: The Gallery of Ancient Chinese Jade, The Gallery of Chinese Currency

The Jade Gallery is a place where over 300 jade wares in the form of wine vessels, jewelry, and house ornaments are showcased for exhibition. The oldest relic can be traced back to the Neolithic Age. Visitors will certainly find the stories behind the pieces of these cultural icons quite fascinating. 

In the Currency Gallery, 3,000 currency relics and specimens are displayed. You'll see metal coins cast from bronze, iron, and other metals which has been circulated since the Qin Dynasty (221 B.C.) and paper notes that first emerged from Northern Song Dynasty (960 – 1127). In addition, Persian gold coins unearthed from the Silk Road complement the exhibition with their exotic features.

On the 4th floor, there is also a room for special exhibits that the museum curates throughout the year so visitors can take an even deeper dive into China's rich and captivating history.

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Venue Details
  • Shanghai Museum

    No.201 Renmin Avenue, by Middle Xizang Road


    31.228397 121.475442


    PriceFree entry

    CardsFree entry

    HoursDaily 9am-5pm (last entry by 4pm)


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