In a city as old and fast paced as Shanghai, museums are an excellent opportunity to slow down and gain a foothold when it seems that the city’s energy is sapping you of your reserves. These five museums offer the most bang for your buck; with rich and diverse exhibits it will seem as if you’re taking a trip through time.
The Shanghai museum is one of the best museums in China. Primarily an art museum, the attraction boasts works from as far back as the Neolithic period. More than 6,000 years of art is represented within its walls – bronzes, sculptures, calligraphy, ceramics, ink paintings, and furniture is just a sampling of delights. Best of all, a knowledge of Mandarin is not necessary, only an appreciation of timeless art.
Underneath the Oriental Pearl Tower lies the Shanghai History Museum. Learn about a time when Shanghai was a port town earning an honest living through trade. Then progress to a time when gangsters and opium traders sullied its reputation. Displays containing waxwork figures, period-authentic artifacts, and interactive media provide entertainment without losing educational value.
Rockbund Art Museum is a new addition to Shanghai; the attraction opened its gates a mere two years ago. Originally constructed for the Royal Asiatic Society in 1932, it was later transformed into one of the first modern museums in China. A premier art gallery, its exhibits focus on life in a fast-changing world. The sleek art-deco architecture adds to the theme of modernity.
The Propaganda Poster Art Centre contains relics of 1950s and 60s Chinese communism. Although a dark period in the nation’s history, in which all art that did not adhere to a socialist dogma was censored, the propaganda posters nonetheless contain a horrifying mystique. The joyful peasants, valiant soldiers, angelic children, and noble red guards, as well as the Great Helmsman himself, is sure to send chills down your spine.
For many years Shanghai has sought to undermine Hong Kong and take the reign as China’s leading financial nexus. Though the city still has a way to go, the Urban Planning Exhibition Hall is determined to tout its achievements. Documenting the city’s progress from the past two decades, visitors will catch a glimpse of Shanghai’s history through maps and photos. Yet the highlights of the museum are definitely the 3D tour and scale model of a future Shanghai (circa 2020), an optimistic testament to the city’s future.