Shanghai Museum

201 Renmin Avenue

Shanghai 200003

People's Republic of China


Xing Tonghe 1995


Shanghai Museum dates back to 1952, but moved to its present building in 1995. The building is by Xing Tonghe of Xiandai Architectural Design Group, which is responsible for an estimated 70% of Shanghai's new developments.


The new building is a modern interpretation of the ancient Chinese cosmological view, from the Han dynasty 2200 years ago or earlier, that Heaven is round and the earth beneath is square (tian yuan di fang). For a fifteenth century interpretation of the same idea see Beijing's Temple of Heaven; for a different contemporary interpretation see the Shanghai Grand Theater opposite the museum.


The form has also been likened to the Chinese ding bronze vessel, but this is denied by the architect as the inspiration.


Within the square base, Xing argues that the museum represents a rethink in museum approach:

In the past, it was thought that the owner or managers were the hosts of the museum and we are afraid that people might visit the museum and destroy the exhibits. That's why so many old museums have railings to protect their exhibits.


I made the change. Audiences should be the host; cultural relics belong to people, so I trust them. So we light up the exhibits to highlight the display, instead of lighting the passageways. And we don't restrict people, either. They can choose which part they want to see first. Lots of new museums in China adopt this philosophy now.



Simon Glynn 2011


How to visit


The museum is just on Renmin Avenue in the middle of People's Squre. By Shanghai Metro take Line 1 or 2 to People's Square Station.


The museum is close to the Shanghai Grand Theater on the north side of the Square.


For practical visiting information please call +86 21 6372 5300, or information line +86 21 9696 8686, or visit





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