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The Top 7 Museums in Shanghai

Shanghai has more than 72 museums, some of which are free of charge. The following are the best seven museums in Shanghai. The top two are free of charge, and Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, with the most expensive entrance fee (60 yuan) is the best one for a family visit.

1. Shanghai Museum (上海博物馆)

  • Entrance Fee: free
  • Opening time: 9am–5pm (last entry 4pm)
  • Exhibition area: 2,800 square meters
  • Address: 201 Renmin Road, Shanghai  (人民路201号)
  • Telephone: 021-6372 3500
  • Transportation: take bus 46, 71, 112, 123, 145, 916, 925 or Tunnel Line 6 and get off at People's Square Station (人民广场)

Shanghai Museum is a large museum of ancient Chinese artifacts. It has more than 120,000 precious historical relics, including bronze ware, china ware, calligraphy works, paintings, jade articles, ancient coins, ancient furniture, and sculptures. 

The most precious two are an ancient cooking vessel with dragon pattern of the Shang Dynasty (1600–1046BC) (龙纹扁足鼎 Longwen Bianzu Ding 'Dragon-Pattern Flat-Foot Tripot') and an excessively free cursive style calligraphy work of The Red Cliff Ode (草书前后赤壁赋).

2. Shanghai Art Palace (中华艺术宫)

  • Entrance fee: free
  • Opening hours: 9am–5pm (last entry:4pm, closed on Monday)
  • Exhibition area: about 64,000 square meters
  • Address: 161 Shangnan Road, Pudong New District (浦东新区上南路161号)
  • Transportation: Take subway line 8, and get off at Shanghai Art Palace Station (中华艺术宫站).

Shanghai Art Palace (also Shanghai Art Museum) has moved to Shanghai Expo China Pavilion from Nanjing West Road. This museum has more than 80,000 exhibits, mainly themed around Chinese modern art.

The exhibitions include numerous art works of China's modern artists (since the late 19th century), including Zhang Daqian, Ren Bonian, and Wu Changshuo. Some unique oil paintings, woodcuts, picture-story books, and Spring Festival paintings are also shown there.

3. Shanghai Natural History Museum (上海自然博物馆)

Shanghai Natural History MuseumShanghai Natural History Museum
  • Entrance fee: 30 yuan
  • Exhibition area: 5,700 square meters
  • Opening hours: 9am–5pm (closed on Mondays)
  • Address: 510 Beijing West Road, Jing'an District (静安区北京西路510号)
  • Telephone: 86-21-68622000
  • Transportation: Take subway line 13 to Shanghai Natural History Museum Station (上海自然博物馆站), leave the station from Exit 1, and walk about 2 minutes to the museum.

It is one of China's largest museums of natural sciences, showing the history of ancient animals, human history, and the evolution of animals and plants, with specimens of animals and plants, mummies, fossils, models, unearthed historical relics, and ancient literature.

Of 180 exhibitions of ancient animals, Mamenchisaurus (马门溪龙), one of the largest dinosaurs in the world, and the ancient elephant of the Yellow River are the most outstanding two. Five mummies, including the oldest mummy unearthed in Loulan (楼兰古尸, with a history of about 4,000 years), are exhibited to show the history of human development.

4. Shanghai History Museum (上海历史博物馆)

  • Entrance fee: 35 yuan
  • Opening time: 9am–5:30pm
  • Exhibition area: 10,000 square kilometers
  • Address: The first floor of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, 1 Century Avenue, Pudong New District (浦东新区世纪大道1号)
  • Telephone: 021-5879 1888
  • Transportation: Take subway line 2, get off at People's Square Station (人民广场站), leave the station from Exit 11 and walk about 5 minutes to the museum.
Shanghai History MuseumOld cars displayed in Shanghai History Museum

It is a museum showing the historical developments of Shanghai, with about 18,000 objects, including more than 1,300 historical relics. There visitors can have a whistle-stop tour Shanghai's past via an array of old artifacts and waxwork figures. Visitors can clamber into the mock street, shop, and bar scenes for taking photos.

Shanghai, once upon a time an honest little port trading nothing more than cotton, fish, silk, and tea, has become China's largest city. This museum will show you how far Shanghai has come.

5. Shanghai Science and Technology Museum (上海科技馆)

  • Entrance fee: 60 yuan
  • Exhibits: about 250,000
  • Opening time: 9am–5pm (closed on Mondays)
  • Address: close to Century Park, 2000 Century Avenue, Pudong New District (浦东新区世纪大道2000号)
  • Telephone: 021-6862 2000
  • Transportation: take Subway Line 2 and get off at Shanghai Science & Technology Museum (上海科技馆)
Shanghai Science and Technology MuseumShanghai Science and Technology Museum

Shanghai Science and Technology Museum is one of the best museums of the city and will provide ready entertainment to fill an afternoon. There are some developmental games for children, so it is a nice destination for a family visit.

There are 12 exhibition areas, five on the first floor (including the Rainforests of Yunnan, and the Earth's Crust Exploration, which is easily missed), floor 4 on the second floor (including the Earth, the World of Robots, and the World of Spiders), and floor 3 on the third floor (including the Space Navigation Area and an Exploration Trip through the Digestive Tract).

6. Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center (上海宣传画艺术中心)

  • Entrance fee: 20 yuan
  • Opening hours: 9am–5pm (closed on every Monday)
  • Exhibits: about 5,000 propaganda posters
  • Address: Basement, Block B, Huashan Road, Xuhui District (徐汇区华山路868号B号楼地下室)
  • Telephone: 021-6211 1845
Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art  Centeran old propaganda poster

Hidden in a basement of a nondescript tower block in Huashan Road, the Propaganda Poster Art Center is a privately owned museum, exhibiting red China by the mass-produced propaganda posters issued in the 1960s and 70s, when China suffered the Cultural Revolution. These hilarious and fascinating 5,000 posters are laid out chronologically.

The fascinating and particular theme of this museum attracts numerous overseas students. Stepping into this basement underground gallery, you can experience China's modern history with cheerful peasants, cherubic children, exciting slogans, heroic soldiers, revolutionary Red Guards, dashing workers, and benevolent Mao.    

7. Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center (上海城市规划展览馆)

  • Entrance fee: 30 yuan
  • Exhibition area: 70,000 square meters
  • Visiting duration: at least 2 hours
  • Opening hours: 9am–5pm (Tuesday–Thursday, ticket sales stop at 4pm); 9am–6pm (Friday–Sunday, ticket sales stop at 5pm); and closed on Mondays
  • Address: 100 Renmin Avenue, Huangpu District (黄浦区人民大道100号)
  • Telephone: 021-6318 4477
  • Transportation: Take subway line 1, 2, or 8, and get off at People's Square (人民广场).
Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition CenterShanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center

This museum will show you how far Shanghai has come in the past two decades, and Shanghai's urban planning in the future decade (circa 2020), with historic photos and maps of old Shanghai, a 3D virtual tour, and an enormous scale model of the future Shanghai - the highlights of the museum.

On the basement floor, the reconstruction of the old Shanghai streets brings visitors back to Shanghai in the 1930s, and for every model building elevation on the streets its original can be found in Shanghai.

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