In the small village of Wuzhen, in the province of Zhejiang (in the east) there are several museums that teach visitors about the culture and history of the old town, dating all the way back to the ancient Tang Dynasty. One of them is the interesting Antique Beds Museum, where we can see the beds that were used in this part of China during the times of the Tang and Qing dynasties. The beds on display here are made from typical trees from the province of Zhejiang and even one made with the stems of roses.
The Shanghai Museum is the most important museum in Shanghai and one of the most important of China. Is located in the city center, and is shaped like an ancient Chinese bronze vase. It's a world apart from most Chinese museums, which tend to have explanations in rather poor English, poor facilities and bad collections. The collection here is magnificent, especially the ancient Chinese ceramics gallery with porcelain or ceramic objects dating back to the Tang dynasty. There is also a gallery of Chinese painting which houses paintings and calligraphy from the Tang, Song, Yuan and Ming dynasties. There are also sections for minority art, ancient Chinese jade, coins, stamps, and sculptures.
The Chinese Ancient Art Gallery is located on Shamian Island and is a place where various pieces of traditional Chinese art are exhibited and sometimes sold. I went when there was an exhibition dedicated to embroidery; it was really impressive, so it's a shame that photographs weren't allowed inside. It's small, so you can see it quickly, but I probably wouldn't pay to see a special exhibition here.
This museum in the Chinese village, Wuzhen, in the Zhejiang province (in the east), shows the evolution of the costumes and traditional Chinese dresses of this part of China, and the introduction of Western fashion in the 30s, when the rules of dress became more permissive: pants, hats, American jackets and even ties were adopted by the people of this region. In the different costumes exhibits, women and men are from the early twentieth century and traditional clothing of Chinese peasants during late nineteenth century are showcased.
The China House was opened just two years ago and, while the architecture is predominately Western, there are many Buddhist details and is decorated with pieces of Chinese porcelain from vases, glasses, and plates that didn't stand the test of time. They also used over 20 tons of natural crystals during the construction. Interestingly, there was more private investment than public in completing the project, and several personalities (including Jackie Chan) invested in this museum which brings together the past, present and future of this ancient country . There are more details in the video.
In the village of Wuzhen China (Zhejiang province, east), there was a famous fabric printing factory. The pattern (characterized by it's navy blue flower motif) became very popular and famous throughout much of China. These printed fabrics were used to make women's dresses, fabrics for the home and even mosquito nets. Today you can still buy these patterned fabrics in the village and there is a museum which has some of the originals on display.
Despite not having a name that appeals much to tourists, the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center is just spectacular. It's amazing to wander through the different levels of the building and get to know how Shanghai grew from a small port city to the cosmopolitan metropolis it is today. But that's not all - the models are fantastic, increasing with size on each level, and ending with a view of the entire city of Shanghai, with millions of miniature buildings. You can also see the exhibitions from the Shanghai Expo of 2010. Much more than just history.