If you read anything about the previous Natural History Museum, it was probably how people encouraged you to go to “see how bad it is” (kind of like the Tourist Tunnel in Liujiazui). Luckily the newly renovated and reopened Shanghai Natural History Museum is the exact opposite of is predecessor, and as it sports a worthwhile show for dinosaur and architecture enthusiasts alike, it is worth checking out.
The museum boasts over 10,000 artifacts from around the world displayed over 4.45 hectares (11 acres) of floorspace.
While you may be tempted to make a beeline for the dinosaurs when you first enter, it’s worthwhile to follow the path laid out by the museum designers: starting on the 4th floor and slowly weaving your way downward. The displays are well done, creative, engaging, and unlike many other places, have well translated English!
The first portion of the museum is dedicated to interactive displays and diagrams showing theories, questions, and ponderings on how the world came to be. Perhaps fittingly the area is accented by beautiful stained glass windows showing various scenes of outer space.
As you weave your way down, you will get your first views of the “giants” that have roamed the earth: replica’s, taxidermy and skeletal alike.
Watch out, some of the dinosaurs move and make sound! I kept waiting for them to take a snack from among the many bystanders, but no luck.
There are a few “teaser” dinosaur skeletons here, but don’t worry, the next stage has tons more!
If seeing all the amazing dinosaur skeletons isn’t enough for you, the building itself is more than worthy of your time. Designed by architects Perkins + Will’s, the museum is an excellent combination of Chinese (the outdoor rock waterfall elements) and modern (the breathtaking 30m high atrium that greets you as you enter) inspiration. The outside of the museum is designed to fit into the surrounding Sculpture Park, and the sweeping curve of the museum itself was inspired by the nautilus shell.
The museum also includes five theaters and an expansive reconstruction of the African grasslands.
And if you still don’t have enough reasons to check out this new museum, the admission price of ¥30 for adults, ¥12 for kids and ¥18 for students should seal the deal for you! Plan on spending at least 3 hours to get a good feel of the place, but know that if you like this kind of thing you could stay for much longer.
It’s also worthwhile to set aside an hour to tour the surrounding sculpture park—especially if it’s a nice day.
Shanghai Natural History Museum
Hours: Closed Mondays; Tuesday-Sunday: 9:00–17:15 (Tickets are sold from 8:55 to 16:30).
Address: Located inside the Jina’an Sculpture Park
128 Shimen Er Lu, near Beijing Xi Lu
Metro: Closest Station is West Nanjing Station (Line 2, Exit 2, 10 minute walk) or XinZha Rd Station (Line 1, Exit 1).
Bus: 19, 36,41, 64, 109, 136, 253, 301, 316, 324, 869, 927, 933, 955 all go to nearby stations.
Cost: ¥30 Adults, ¥18 Students, ¥12 Kids. Buy tickets from the ticket booth around to the right of the entrance, then go through the entrance line/security check.
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