Over one hundred thousand separate pieces can be found in the Shanghai Museum. Ten galleries, a handful of exhibition halls and countless other rooms hold these ancient artifacts, the Shanghai City Museum is world renowned for its collection of bronzes, ceramics, paintings and calligraphy.
Initially established in 1952, the original home of the Shanghai City Museum was the converted Shanghai racecourse club. The burgeoning art collection was then moved in 1959, then again at the end of last century, finally finding its current home in the People's Square in 1996. The building was specifically constructed to resemble a giant ding, which is an ancient bronze cooking tripod, many examples of which can actually be found inside. Amidst the usual chaos found in the city, the Shanghai Museum is not only one of great societal import, but a serene resting place far many a traveler to avoid the outside world.
The oldest artifacts in the most historically and culturally important museum in Shanghai date back to the Xia dynasty, somewhere around the 21st century BC. They can be seen in the Gallery of Ancient Chinese Bronze, one of the most visited section in the entirety of the museum. Though, considering the relatively close quarters inside the museum in Shanghai, most visitors rarely pass over a single one.
Regardless, probably the most popular gallery in the Shanghai City Museum is the gallery of ancient Chinese calligraphy. Tracing the entire history of the art form, tourists can see original documents that are thousands of years old, the earliest being the surviving pieces from the Shang dynasty, when calligraphy first became a popular method of expression. The enigmatic swirls of the Tang and Song dynasties are also on display here, much more famous artifacts than those that came before them.
Spread across the rest of the Shanghai City Museum, reflecting off the immaculately polished stone floors, are thousands of jade, bronze and gold pieces can be found along side paintings and sculptures, each one bringing China's colorful and well-preserved history to life. Since it is the only museum in Shanghai worth seeing, though it is somewhat smaller than most major museums in the world, you'll find enough here to last you days. With self-guided electronic tours and later summer hours, the Shanghai Museum is a common stop on any Chinese itinerary, especially for those seeking a glimpse into the far reaches of the past.