The Shanghai Museum

Lest I neglect a wonderful place in Shanghai. One of our first stops was the Shanghai Museum. This is a fairly new place, having only opened in the last couple of years. And its exhibitions are among some of the best I’ve ever seen. The building itself is quite nice to look at (as are many of the buildings in Shanghai), but the collections are even better.

Take the jade exhibit, for example. Many museums I’ve been in (and certainly ones on this trip) would dump a lot of it in one room, without much care for organization or progression. At the Shanghai Museum, they take great care to take you from the early days of jade carving, some 5,000 years ago, to the more recent history of pre-1911. You can actually see how jade carving evolved. The Museum also took care to explain the various epochs and what made them significant.

The same goes for their pottery exhibit, which features the early clay works to celandon (pre-porcelain) to the blue-and-white porcelain that we all came to call “china”, and works beyond that. It’s impressive stuff. The Museum even produces a chart of broken pottery pieces that identifies the different styles and eras.

There’s also painting and calligraphy that’s displayed under motion-sensor lights. You get close, the lights turn up; otherwise, they’re kept dim to preserve the paintings. Call it what you will, but someone here really knew how to make a good museum.