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Museum Taking in culture is free this Sunday
By Wang Jie

ANCIENT Chinese art, modern art, contemporary art, famous foreign art and history — all can be found in Shanghai’s museums.

For International Museum Day on Sunday (May 18), Shanghai Daily summarizes the city’s museums, many of them open free to the public on that day. These museums are notable not only for their collections but also for their architecture. These include the Power Station of Art, a former electric power station; the crimson China Art Museum in the former China National Pavilion of the World Expo Shanghai 2010, and the Shanghai Museum in the shape of an ancient bronze cooking vessel called ding.

Shanghai Museum

This is often considered China’s first world-class museum, and it’s dedicated to ancient art. Located at the edge of People’s Square, it is built of stone and shaped like a round bronze cooking vessel with handles, known as ding.

The shape echoes the Chinese philosophical concept that the sky is round and the earth is square.

Opened in 1996, it contains collections renowned for their range, depth and quality.

The collections cover ancient Chinese bronzes, sculpture, ceramics, jades, seals, calligraphy, coins and other currency, paintings, Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasty furniture, and crafts of China’s national minorities.

It regularly holds smaller shows and exhibitions including items from China and abroad.

Opening hours: 9am-5pm

Address: 201 People’s Ave

Admission: Free

Power Station of Art

A vast space housing contemporary art and installation, the Power Station of Art is the renovated Nanshi Power Station built in 1897, symbolizing the city’s industrial might at the time.

Featuring a towering, 165-meter smokestack, it was used as the Urban Future Pavilion in the World Expo Shanghai 2010. It once burned highly polluting, high-sulphur coal and was decommissioned in 2007.

Today, there is a huge, lighted digital thermometer on the chimney.

The museum is China’s first government aided contemporary art museum.

Because of its vast interior, several big contemporary art exhibitions have been held there, such as the first Andy Warhol exhibition in China two years ago.

The major current exhibition features pictures and models of the work of renowned architect Kazuo Shinohara, a legend in Japanese contemporary architecture.

Opening hours: 10am-5pm, closed on Mondays

Address: 200 Huayuangang Rd

Admission: Free

Long Museum West Bund

This is the second and largest private institution established by Chinese super collectors Liu Yiqian and his wife Wang Wei. Some critics say it could become  Shanghai’s equivalent of a Guggenheim or a Whitney.

It features primarily modern and contemporary art.

The current major exhibition features the couple’s collection of Chinese contemporary art, starting from Gu Wenda’s calligraphy to the latest young promising artists. It includes big names such as Zhou Tiehai, Zhang Enli and Zhang Xiaogang.

The gray stone modern architecture is spectacular. It contains a theater and conference rooms.

Opening hours: 10am-5pm, closed on Mondays

Address: 3398 Longteng Ave

Admission: 50 yuan (Free on May 18)

Rockbund Art Museum

The building is situated in the famous Rockbund area of the Bund, where Suzhou Creek flows into the Huangpu River. The building once housed the Royal Asiatic Society and the former Shanghai Museum, one of China’s first modern museums.

This non-government contemporary art museum was renovated by British architect David Chipperfield. The original 1932 structure was designed by Palmer and Wilson, in a hybrid style combining Western architecture with Chinese decorative elements. Chipperfield retained the original design in the exterior facade.

The museum organizes exhibitions of Chinese and foreign contemporary artists. The museum is a convenient stop for visitors to the Bund.

Opening hours: 9am-5pm, closed on Mondays

Address: 20 Huqiu Rd

Admission: 15 yuan

Minsheng Art Museum

This contemporary art museum, opened by China Minsheng Bank, is part of the old red brick Shanghai No. 10 Steel Factory in the Red Town area, so named because of the red brick.

The Red Town creative zone houses the Shanghai Sculpture Museum Park and a collection of cafes, gift shops and restaurants.

The grassy areas among the sculptures are popular for picnics.

The two-story main building is notable for not having a single supporting pillar. This obstruction-free design makes it ideal for large works and installations.

The museum opened in 2010 with a landmark exhibition about Chinese contemporary art.

It has featured exhibitions by many top contemporary artists, including Zhang Enli and Liu Wei.

Opening hours: 10am-6pm, closed on Mondays

Address: Bldg F, 570 Huaihai Rd W.

Admission: Free

Himalayas Art Center

The museum was designed by Arata Isozaki, famous for his design of the  Barcelona Olympics Stadium and the Los Angeles Museum of Modern Art.

For the Himalayas Center Complex, Isozaki created the soft curves of an organic forest within the hard, symmetrical lines of crystalline cubes.

The 31-meter high “forest” comprises the lower half of the construction, and is the soul of the building. The uneven walls contain large expanses of irregularly shaped holes and the structure has a sense of freedom of movement.

Art and culture are the essence of the complex. It combines the interior spatial designs of an art museum with the functions and layout of a shopping mall.

Although it contains an art museum and a theater, the exhibition scene is not too active since the location is far from downtown. A direct metro line, No. 7, stops at Huamu Station near the museum.

Opening hours: 10am-5pm, closed on Mondays

Address: 1188 Fangdian Rd, the Pudong New Area

Admission: 50 yuan (Free on May 17, 18, 19)

China Art Museum

Also called the China Art Palace, the museum of modern and contemporary Chinese art is housed in the former China National Pavilion of the 2010 Shanghai World Expo in Pudong New Area.

The spectacular crimson museum in a traditional architectural style, was the architectural heart of the Expo and a major tourist attraction.

It’s vast, around 166,000 square meters, the largest art museum in Asia, and it’s rather isolated in an area yet to be developed into an art zone.

It was renovated to be a professional museum, but some visitors say there are too many tourists and the space is actually too big.

It features major international exhibitions, such as “Shanghai/Paris: Modern Art of China” and “China Dream, Thirty Years,” a photo exhibition by American Chinese photographer Liu Heung-shing.

A Rubens exhibition is underway.

Opening hours: 9am-5pm

Address: 205 Shangnan Rd, the Pudong New Area

Admission: Free

Shanghai Arts & Crafts Museum

The building where the museum housed is built in 1905. The three storied building located in the former French Concession area, is of French Renaissance style.

In the main building of the museum is the exhibition hall for folk arts, carvings and embroideries, composing 10 specialized workshops staffed with 50 professional artisans. There are shops in the museum and the research institute offering artworks, arts and crafts and tourist souvenirs.

Opening hours: 9:30am-4pm, close on Mondays

Address: 79 Fenyang Rd

Admission: 8 yuan (Free on May 17, 18, 19)

China Maritime Museum

The museum, shaped like a boat, may attract more children than adults to its exhibitions of China’s maritime civilization. It covers the development of China’s maritime industry and its contributions to world maritime science.

Transportation is not convenient since the museum is far from downtown and is not near a direct metro line.

Opening hours:

9:30am-4:30pm, closed on Mondays

Address: 197 Shengang Blvd, the Pudong New Area

Admission: 50 yuan (Free on May 18)

Shanghai Museum of Glass

Housed in a renovated former glass factory, the museum takes visitors through the history of glass around the world and features a striking selection of glass art by international artists.

It includes a glass blowing demonstration area, cafe and gift shop. Children enjoy the interactive exhibits.

It’s far from downtown and there’s no direct metro line. There are few visiting exhibitions.

Opening hours: 9:30am-5pm, closed on Mondays

Address: 685 Changjiang Rd W.

Admission: 20 yuan (Free on May 19)

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