Friday 18th May is World Museum Day, a celebration of knowledge-serving institutions that’s been in the calendar since 1977. Museums across China often go big for the day, offering free or discounted entry and holding special events. Our photo theme this week is Masterful Museums — dedicated to showcasing some of the country’s most visually stunning museums.
Shanghai, like a number of cities around China, has been on a bit of a museum building spree the last few years. Some of these have repurposed old industrial buildings, warehouses and even aircraft hangars, such as the architecturally impressive clutch of private institutions that makes up the art-focused West Bund area, while others have created wholly new spaces.
An institution in the latter category is Shanghai Natural History Museum. The old Natural History Museum occupied a historic building close to The Bund and had a hotch-potch collection of at best kooky at worst racist installations and displays. The Perkins+Will’s Global-designed incarnation — which opened in 2015 — sits within Jingan Sculpture Park and is a wholly different affair, with up to date animatronics and engaging content.
Unfortunately, in a city where you’re all-too-often told you can’t sit on the grass, the green sweep that forms its striking roof is off limits for picnics. But in recently-revealed plans for a new Science and Technology Museum in neighbouring Suzhou, Perkins+Will’s Global look set to create another stunning curve of greenery — this time with a clearly demarcated pathway for visitors to wander up. The complex will also include eco-friendly features such as an “aquatic courtyard” and a “life-giving forest”. An opening date is yet to be set.
If you’re not in Shanghai, you can take a virtual tour of the Natural History Museum here.
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