Shanghai Museum is famous for its large collection of rare cultural pieces. The museum now houses over 120,000 precious historical relics in twelve categories, including Chinese bronze, ceramics, paintings, furniture, calligraphy, seals, jades, ancient coins, and sculptures.
Opened in 1995, it is the newest of the top four museums in China.
The museum has eleven galleries and three exhibition halls spreading over four floors. Its rich and high-quality collection of ancient Chinese bronze, ceramics, paintings, and calligraphy is specially celebrated in the world.
Shanghai Museum is especially well-known for its collection of bronze pieces.
The 1,200-square-meter exhibition room displays more than 400 beautifully decorated bronze items, which provide a panoramic picture of China from the 18th century BC to the 3rd century BC.
The items exhibited include wine, food, and water vessels, musical instruments, and weapons from the Xia Dynasty in 2000 BC to the Warring States Period (221 BC).
The shape of the museum itself mimics that of an ancient bronze cauldron with a round dome and square base.
There are over 500 pieces of ancient ceramics from various dynasties, including painted and gray pottery from the Neolithic period, prototype celadon from the Shang (1600–1046 BC), the Zhou (1046–256 BC), and the Warring States (475–221 BC) periods, fine celadon from the Eastern Han Dynasty (25–220 AD), and the famous polychrome-glazed pottery from the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD).
You can also see a wide variety of ware and porcelain tracking back to the Liao (907–1125 AD), the Song (960–1279 AD), and the Jin (1115–1234 AD) dynasties.
In the museum, you will be able to see paintings by great artists starting from the Yuan Dynasty in the 13th century.
Abandon yourself mindfully to the brushes and strokes. Instead of re-representing nature, the painters strived for you to be part of it, to experience life and death, joy and sorrow, all in one painting.
If you are interested in Chinese architecture, you should not miss the room showing Chinese furniture from the Ming and Qing dynasties. When stepping into the room, you almost feel like you are in a Chinese-style garden and mansion.
Over 100 pieces of various styles of furniture made in the Ming and Qing dynasties are displayed, along with some models of valuable furniture, and wooden buried warrior figures from the Ming Dynasty, unearthed near Shanghai.
You can get a clear picture of what an ancient seal looks like in the Seal Showroom. The room consists of four parts and displays more than 500 seals from the Zhou Dynasty (1046–256 BC) to the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911).
In the Chinese Minority Nationalities' Art Gallery, you can enjoy about 600 works in different styles and remarkable colors. Items include dresses and personal adornments, dyed and woven embroidery, metal artware, sculptures, ceramics, and bamboo wares used by the minority people.
Travel Essentials for Planning a Trip
- Location: 201 Renmin Avenue, near People's Square in the center of Shanghai
- Transport: Take Metro Lines 1, 2, and 8 (Shanghai Metro) and get off at People's Square Station.
- Open: 9am–5pm
- Time needed: 1½–2 hours. If you are interested in China’s history and culture, you can spend a whole day there.
- Entrance fee: free
- The Bund is a living museum of the colonial history of the 1800s with dozens of buildings of various architectural styles.
- Yu Garden ('Happiness Garden') houses a wonderful collection of classic, traditional Chinese buildings and it is an oasis in the bustling city.
- People's Square: This is a beautifully landscaped and maintained park, which is well worth taking a stroll through.
Visit Shanghai Museum with China Highlights
Shanghai Museum is a great place to visit if you are interested in China’s culture and history. Traveling with a professional guide is necessary and helpful if you want to learn some background information about the artifacts in the museum.
Here are our most popular tours with this museum:
- 3-Day Essence of Shanghai and Watertown Tour: This tour blends the modern Oriental Pearl TV Tower and the ancient Yu Garden, along with a cultural exploration in Shanghai Museum.
- 8-Day Golden Triangle Tour: Visit the most popular attractions in Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai. Shanghai Museum can be added into this tour.