Located on busy Nanjing Road in People's Square, Shanghai Art Museum has 12 exhibition halls, covering more than 5,000 square meters. The building itself is a charming area to walk around as it used to be the club house of Shanghai's Race Club built in the 1930's.
It was renovated as a museum in March 2000 and interestingly during the process some distinctly Chinese features were added to this British style building. These are the wooden structures which you can see next to the front gate (Zhu4shi4Ji2gou4 in Chinese). They're a feature of traditional Chinese architecture in palaces and temples. The structure is held together through hammering together wooden joins and not a single piece of metal bolts or screws are used.
Whilst enjoying the architecture, you can also peruse the different exhibits that change throughout the year. Nominally the museum has no set style though there's a bias towards contemporary Chinese art - which makes an interesting contrast to the faded grandeur of the colonial era building. It is well worth spending an afternoon here to gain an insight into Chinese perspectives on modern art and modern life. Walking around the building will take around two to three hours depending on how carefully you want to look at the exhibits.
Unfortunately, for such a large and centrally located museum the English language support is patchy. Explanations beside the paintings are brief and not always translated. More problematic is the fact that exhibition schedules are in Chinese only, and so is the Website. There is however an audio guide that is in English.
Address: No. 325, Nanjing Road W. near Huangpi Rd. N.
Tickets: 20 yuan/person, 5 yuan/student
Open Hours: 9am - 4pm
To get there: Metro line 1 or Metro line 2 (People's Square Station)
(Shanghai Daily July 16, 2007)