Saturday, February 12, 2011

At The Museums


It's quite snappy to have all the museums concentrated in People Square. It made for pleasant strolls over 2 mornings. I passed by the Shanghai Grand Theatre (上海大剧院), which is certainly more beautiful when fully lit in the nights. The month of February doesn't yield attractive programmes or performances for me though.

I made a quick stop at the Urban Planning Exhibition Hall (上海城市展览馆) housed in an ultra modern sleek glass facade. The architectural models of the city are intricate and expansive. But more so, I was interested to see the development of the city from the government's perspective so that I could contrast or compare it to what I'm seeing in the streets, Hangzhou and Suzhou. Certainly, the city doesn't lack vision, and it's by no means less sophisticated than the likes of Dubai, Chicago and New York City.

The Shanghai Museum (上海博物馆) was breathtaking. Since I grew up in Asia and studied Chinese history in depth and had seen extensive artifacts in previous trips to the country, I thought I wouldn't linger long at this museum. But I did! It was an absolute pleasure to walk through the galleries of bronze, ceramics, paintings, sculpture, jade, seals, calligraphy, wood, furniture, etc. Feeling all inspired and arty-fart from viewing the rich culture within, it was mind-boggling to step out to be greeted by 3 humans spitting in different directions. It was truly, a WTF moment.

I went to the Chanel exihbition at the Museum of Contemporary Art (当代艺术馆). But this exhibition isn't a visual feast like the Valentino exhibition at home at RWS. It's more informative than aiming to provide a stunning spectacle. Culture Chanel (文化香奈儿) is a well-curated portrayal of artwork, manuscripts and films. There's just 1 bag on display; no shoes, alot of bling and pearls. But the focus isn't quite on the bags or the dresses. It's intended to provide a perspective to the evolving designs and thought processes behind the brand. Interjected with Marcel Proust's manuscripts and Picasso's sketches, as well as the costumes made for Ballet Russes' "Le Train Bleu" (something I didn't see in London), formed the backdrop of the cultural scene of the era.

After hearing the clock tower's bells toll noon, I went into the Shanghai Art Museum (上海美术馆) to have a look at their first exhibition of 2011- Xu Kuang's (徐匡) works comprising of wood engravings, sketches, watercolors and oils. His later day modern art pieces of wood engravings were meticulously carved in mostly black and white, or rather black and brown. I know nothing about Chinese artists, but I can appreciate their compositions drawn from a bygone era, or from the colorful ethnic make-up of the country.

There's such an oasis of calm that wraps around the mind visiting the museums and wandering around the spaces. It makes me happy, and a little more fortified somewhat, for whatever.

5 comments:

kikare said...

You studied Chinese history in depth? Imp you never cease to surprise me.

tuti said...

imp is so cultured north south east west. :)

that reminds me, i have a 150 yr old at least, chinese painting done by don-know-who, but supposed to depict some officials during that period, that is related.. ahem, to me clan.
the paints are so worn off, i dare not open it because they're just gonna crack. don't know what to do with it.

Dawn said...

I totally agree about the sense of calm and well-being when in a museum. Unless they're about to close and threatening to throw you out and you need to run through the rooms :)

Cool Insider said...

Thanks for the update on the museums in Shanghai. I've never been to any of them although my colleagues have probably visited them repeatedly. How do they compare to the Palace Museum in Taiwan in terms of the overall experience?

imp said...

kikare: was part of the syllabus. had no choice.

tuti: keep the painting next to the humidifier! or a tub of Thirsty Hippo!

dawn: i allocate more time to the museums than the shopping malls. do not want to be thrown out!

coolinsider: oh dear, i've not been to Taiwan as an adult. can't compare that. but the museums here are lovely. well thought-out audio+hard copy guides, layout and signs are all intuitive. Good toilets! The lighting isn't too harsh and conducive, using quite a fair bit of natural light, and the music is clearly curated as well, complementing each gallery. They had interactive spaces/craft&drawing kits for the children and adults, with scheduled weekend activity sessions that need to be pre-booked. The Shanghai Museum is my favorite. Next in line is MoCA for its special exhibitions.