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Photo of the Day: Suzhou Museum

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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.

The Suzhou Museum‘s collection of ancient art and crafts is extensive, and for certain scholars no doubt impressive. But for many visitors the thing about the museum that makes it truly memorable is its fantastic design. For this, we have Pritzker Prize-winning Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei to thank.

Pei was born in Guangzhou and raised in both Hong Kong and Shanghai, and his designs have long drawn inspiration from Suzhou’s gardens (for which the Jiangsu capital is famous, along with is canals and silk). For the museum, which opened in 2006, he put a modern spin on the classical gardens to which tourists flock, including the Humble Administrator’s Garden right next door.

The white-walled, grey-roofed structure echoes the traditional Jiangsu style, while the museum’s buildings are positioned around a central body of water, much like in the compounds constructed by the city’s rich traders in previous generations. It’s a tasteful, understated nod to the past.

All photos from Suzhou Museum website.

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