Shanghai’s selection of 120,000 historic artifacts may not be the most comprehensive, but it is easily the most tastefully displayed and well lit, with explanatory signs in both English and Chinese.
The museum’s art collection affords a rare and enjoyable glimpse into China’s social history. Fourteen halls are arranged by theme rather than by date: The exhibition of bronzes, often cited as one of the world’s best displays, is brought to life through understanding the rituals and role of elite ancestor worship. Statuary is best interpreted through the prism of Chinese Buddhism and the ceramic collection is best understood for its far-reaching impact as a global luxury good.
The bronze, stone sculpture and painting galleries are generally considered the most liked, although many a visitor delights in the gift shop on the ground floor that sells museum reproductions, books and postcards.