For ancient Chinese treasures, the Shanghai Museum houses over one million relics including prized collections of ancient bronze, ceramics, jade, paintings, coins, furniture, seals and calligraphy. Located in the centre of Shanghai in People's Square, it's worth setting aside a day to explore the gems within the museum's 11 galleries.
With an exterior structure of a round dome and a square base reflecting the ancient notion that ‘heaven is round, earth is square', the Shanghai Museum is home to an exhaustive array of ancient examples of Chinese art and artifacts. With 11 galleries and three exhibition halls, the site displays ancient bronze, ancient ceramics, paintings, calligraphy, ancient sculpture, ancient jade, coins, furniture from the Ming and Qing dynasties and seals. There's also a gallery devoted to Chinese minorities' art, which showcases different regional dress, adornment and crafts from some of the country's 52 ethnic groups.
Treasures from the Ancient Bronze Gallery include intricately inscribed food vessels and musical instruments, while the Ancient Ceramics gallery has examples of blue porcelain from the early Ming dynasty and early pieces from the Neolithic age. Within the Ancient Sculpture Gallery you'll find various Buddha figurines in all shapes and sizes, and the Paintings Gallery displays tranquil landscape scenes in traditional and regional styles. That most treasured of Chinese gems, the jade, has a gallery of ornaments and exquisitely carved objects featuring this precious stone which was considered a symbol of wealth and power in ancient times.
Also worth a look are the ancient examples of Chinese calligraphy, and stone seals dating from the Western Zhou dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty. China was one of the first countries to use currency and the Coins Gallery houses almost 7,000 pieces. Entry to the Shanghai Museum is free all year round. To visit, take metro lines 1, 2 or 8 to People's Square Station and then it's a seven-minute walk down Xizang Middle Road and right into Renmin Avenue and the Shanghai Museum.