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Must-see museums on the Bund

SHANGHAI has many fascinating and specialized museums showcasing ancient relics, contemporary art and science and technology.

Visiting museums makes for a relaxing "cultural" day and offers opportunities to learn more about the city and China itself.

History buffs, culture and art lovers, and those with specialized interests will find museums to satisfy their curiosity and taste. The most famous include the Shanghai Museum in People's Square that displays historic treasures and the nearby Shanghai Art Museum, the home of the Shanghai Biennial, which features China's contemporary art.

Some museums, exhibition and memorial halls are free, including the Shanghai Museum, CPC Memorial Hall, Lu Xun Museum and Shanghai Navy Museum.

Several new museums and cultural spaces opened before the World Expo Shanghai. The most talked about attractions include the Rockbund Art Museum housed in a converted Art Deco building and the Minsheng Art Museum, both exhibiting contemporary art.

New museums have been developed in the suburbs, away from the crowded urban core. They are easily accessible by subway.

Visits should, of course, start with those famous museums but don't miss the new gems scattered about. Here are three in the historic and recently renovated Bund area, where visitors can shop, sightsee and soak up a bit of culture.

Postal Museum - Letters from the past

The architecturally splendid museum is famous for its majestic main hall, known as the First Hall of the Far East. The museum at the corner of Sichuan Road N. and Suzhou Road N. features five interesting exhibition halls (including rare issues), a gorgeous courtyard and roof garden with a Baroque-style clock tower.

This also offers a panoramic view on both sides of Suzhou Creek and the Huangpu River.

Exhibitions cover the history of sending letters and documents and the development of the postal service in China and in Shanghai.

It features rare stamps from Imperial China as well as rarities of the People's Republic. In the courtyard are replicas of a horse-drawn postal carriage used in 1909, a 1917 postal truck and a post box, with dragon patterns, from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Modern postal service and technology are also featured. A short film describes the future of the post in the age of the Internet and wireless connections.

Opening hours: 9am-4pm (Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday)

Address: 250 Suzhou Rd N.

Tel: 6325-0855, 6306-0798

Admission: free

Bund History - Old Shanghai days

The Bund Museum, housing the Bund Signal Tower, was once the tallest building in Asia and 150 years ago people in Shanghai set their clocks by it. At the junction of Huangpu River and Suzhou Creek, it was reopened in March after extensive renovation. In addition to fascinating relics and old photos of life along the Bund, it provides a spectacular view of the waterfront from the top floor.

The renovated exhibition space is highly interactive. Visitors pass a panoramic picture of the Bund in the 1920s and enter the first exhibition on Shanghai's origin and development into the financial center of Asia and major shipping hub.

Exhibitions include a towering sculpture of a ship, recalling the shipping business. A model of a gas lamp is a reminder that Shanghai was the first city in China to be illuminated, and it was along the Bund.

The second section describes the economic reform and opening up policies started in 1988.

LED screens and advanced technologies surround visitors with spectacular views of the Bund and let them touch a screen and travel to the past, the present and the future.

Opening hours: 9am-4pm (Monday-Friday; closed on weekends)

Address: 475 Zhongshan Rd E1

Tel: 5308-8987

Admission: free

Rockbund Art - Contemporary

At the north end of the Bund area, the former Royal Asiatic Society building has been restored and converted to the only contemporary art museum in the historic riverfront area.

It opened in May. Built in 1932 by British architect George L. Wilson, the Art Deco building was once the most influential venue for academic exchange and public education in the Far East, also the early home of one of China's first modern museums, the Shanghai Museum.

Today it provides an international platform for the promotion and exchange of contemporary art through exhibitions and educational programs. World renowned artist Cai Guoqiang curated the inaugural exhibition. The current exhibition features works by Zeng Fanzhi, a major figure in contemporary art. For other exhibitons, you can check their website

Opening hours: 10am-6pm (Tuesday-Sunday, closed on Mondays)

Address: 20 Huqiu Rd

Tel: 3310-9985

Admission: 15 yuan (regular),10 yuan (concessionary)


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