Suzhou Museum

The Suzhou Museum (Chinese name is 苏州市博物馆) is a museum of ancient Chinese art, paintings, calligraphy, and handmade crafts in Suzhou, Jiangsu, China. It is one of the most visited museums in the world.

As one of the most visited museums in the world, the Suzhou Museum was founded in 1960, originally located in the former residence of Zhong Wang, an important general during the Taiping Rebellion. In 1986 the Suzhou Folk Museum, which later became the National Key Culture Relics Protection Unit, opened on the 2,500th anniversary of Suzhou’s establishment. In 2006, the museum moved to its present location and was designed by Suzhou-born Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei.

Located deep in the historic district adjacent to Humble Administrator’s Garden, the Suzhou Museum appeals to lovers of art, architecture, and culture. Free to visitors, it houses an impressive collection of art objects dating from different dynasties. On approximately 3,600 m², the visitor will be able to appreciate a collection of more than 30,000 pieces, dealing with various subjects such as painting and calligraphy, sculpture, ceramics, and even clothing. Some exhibits are unique and of great importance to the history of China.

Among its treasures, we note, for example, relics of the vanished kingdom of Wu, a superb celadon in the shape of a lotus flower, bronzes of the Shang and Western Zhou, sutras on scrolls from the 10th and 11th centuries, miniatures illustrating scenes from the life of the Buddha, or even a miniature pagoda made up of 4000 beads assembled with gold and jade threads. The Museum also includes some paintings from the Ming period of the Suzhou School with works by Wen Zhengming, Shen Zhou, and Tang Yin.

The Suzhou Museum is rare among the world’s museums because the building itself—not the collection—is the attraction. It was designed by I.M. Pei, a Suzhou native and the architect behind the glass pyramid at the Louvre, which has become as famous as the Louvre itself—even a symbol for the whole of Paris.

Suzhou Museum obeys the theme of “Design for China”. It combines modern exhibition halls and classical garden architecture. The whole structure contains three floors, which include an underground floor. The central and western parts of the museum have a second floor. The main buildings are less than 20 feet (6 meters) in height and are surrounded by beautiful courtyards. Visitors will feel that the museum itself is like an exquisite work of art while appreciating the treasures and exhibits within.

All that’s to say this is one serene museum. Even as the hallways and exhibition rooms pulse with visitors, the effect is akin to the ancient gardens of Suzhou.

Museum official website: here

Useful information

Best Seasons: All seasons
Recommended Visiting Time: about 2-3 hours
Opening Time: 09h00~17h00, closed on Monday (admission not allowed after 16h00)
Tickers: Free
Address: No.204 Northeast Street, Gusu District, Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province 江苏省苏州市姑苏区东北街204号

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