In a nationwide attempt to enhance China’s cultural status, the Chinese government has been rolling out a series of measures to make all government-owned libraries and museums free of charge by the end of 2012.
the government has allocated
5.2 billion yuan towards the project, with free admission already in place
at more than 1,700 of China’s museums. As a metropolitan hotspot at the
crossroads of both Chinese and international influences, Shanghai was an early
adopter of the effort, and many of its publically-owned art museums are already
granting free admission.
has a flourishing modern art scene, including an established art district at
the famous 50
Moganshan Road. Though government-owned art museums and galleries are few
compared to the privately owned venues, they have unparalleled exhibitions that
are well preserved and relevant. From ancient Chinese artefacts at the Shanghai Museum to avant-garde
abstracts at the Duolun Museum of Modern Art,
Shanghai’s now-free public museums offer visitors a comprehensive look into the
country’s art scene.
Shanghai Art Museum
With 12 exhibition
halls spread across five floors, the Shanghai
Art Museum offers an extensive selection of modern and traditional art
forms. Situated at the edge of Shanghai’s People’s Square, the museum used to
be the former clubhouse building of the Shanghai Racing Club. Today, its iconic
clock tower is a Shanghai landmark.
museum was built in the 1930s and contains historical sculptures and paintings
that reflect the city’s 1930s bohemian glamour. At the top of the museum is Kathleen’s 5, a rooftop restaurant and
bar with great Western brunch specials and a panoramic view of Nanjing Road.
The museum is also the home to the Shanghai
Biennale, a high profile art event that is said to be the most established
art exhibition in China. The Biennale is held every two years in September and features
a mix of Chinese and international art.
Shanghai Duolun Museum of Modern Art
In the 20th
Century, a handful of famous Chinese writers resided on Duolun Road, creating a
vibrant neighbourhood known for its exchange of thoughts and ideas. Today, Shanghai’s
Duolun Museum of Modern Art is the first government-owned museum dedicated
completely to modern art. Spiral staircases connect the seven-story structure and
the permanent collection ranges from paintings and sculptures to film and
media. The contemporary museum frequently changes exhibits and sometimes hosts
live performances. Past exhibitions include women-shaped bread sculptures and
bronze knights inspired by ancient Greece.
Liu Haisu Art Museum
with a striking deep-blue glass exterior, this contemporary art centre was named after Liu
Haisu, a modern Chinese painter known for combining European techniques with
traditional Chinese strokes. The museum primarily features the collections of
Liu himself and with only five exhibition halls, it is an ideal spot for those
who want to escape the long lines and crowds at bigger venues. Liu was a rebel
painter of the 1920s who revolutionized the Chinese art movement by using nude
models. After being banned from Shanghai art schools for his nude art, Liu
eventually found support through the art department at the prestigious Peking
University. He was heavily influenced by European counterparts Picasso and
Matisse, and it is said that Liu brought impressionism and post-impressionism
into China. The museum is heavily dominated with his oil and calligraphy
paintings that combine the rich colours of Western art with the aesthetics of
Shanghai Museum is the most notable art establishment in Shanghai and has one
of the best collections of ancient Chinese artefacts in the world. With more
than 120,000 pieces of cultural relics, the museum is divided into 11 galleries
and three exhibition halls. It features an impressive bronze collection from
the Shang and Zhou dynasties and has more than 500 pieces of unique ancient
ceramics. The museum, located in the heart of People’s Square, is shaped like
an ancient Chinese cooking pot called a “ding”. Its rounded roof and square
base symbolizes the ancient Chinese astrology concept of how the universe was
structured – with a round heaven and square earth.