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A walk through 5,500 years of glorious history
By Tan Weiyun

A museum can provide an insightful look into local history, and the Songjiang Museum is an excellent example of that cultural function.

The museum, located on the eastern side of Zhongshan Road M., just beside Fangta Park, traces 5,500 years of the district’s history.

Founded in 1915, the museum’s façade has retained the architecture of its era, with upturned eaves, whitewashed walls and grey roof tiles.

Its collection boasts more than 5,000 pieces of porcelain and jade, wooden sculpture, bronze vessels and gold accessories. In addition, it contains about 2,000 ancient books, including some of the very precious block-print editions.

During the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, Songjiang was one of the ancient economic and cultural centers of China — a place renowned for its artists and scholars. It was also a cotton center said to provide the whole nation with clothing.

Visitors to the museum often remark on how well the art collection brings a glorious past to life.
The museum displays the country’s only engraved stone self-portrait of Zhao Mengfu (1254-1322), one of the favorite calligraphers of emperors, and China’s oldest and the most complete engraved stone slab depicting the ancient history of Shanghai.

There’s also a stele ordered to be cut by the Kangxi Emperor (1654-1722) and a rich collection of ink paintings and calligraphy pieces by great masters like Zhao Mengfu and Dong Qichang (1555-1636), both Songjiang natives.

The museum has two floors. The first floor is dedicated to seasonal art exhibitions, while the second floor is used to display the museum’s standing collections.

One of the biggest highlights is the bronze Buddha statue, embossed in gold and dating back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907). It was discovered in 1965 in the district’s Tongbotang River. About 17 centimeters high and 470 grams in weight, the statue features delicate carving and facial expressions.

Another must-see is a bronze cannon, excavated in Sijing Town in 1971. It is 96 centimeters long with a 6-centimeter inner diameter. The 100-kilogram cannon was used in the Taiping rebellion (1850-1864).

Songjiang is home to the Guangfulin heritage site, a 10,000-square-meter underground tomb where cooking vessels, tools and other daily necessities were buried about 2,000 years ago. In the museum, visitors can view some of the skeletons of animals discovered at the site as well as many vessels used in ancient times.

An exhibition featuring more than 400 antiques unearthed in Songjiang is ongoing at the museum through October 20.

Address: 233 Zhongshan Rd M.
Hours: Daily, 9am-4pm
Admission: Free

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