Housed in the one remaining vestige of Shanghai’s racy 1920s and ’30s heyday to grace the grounds of People’s Square—formerly the site of the Shanghai Race Club’s race track—the Shanghai Art Museum (Shànghǎi Měishùguǎn｜上海美术馆) wears its architecture well. The primarily British Shanghailanders responsible for the genteel pleasure palace known back in the day as the Shanghai Race Club put considerable money and effort into constructing this grand edifice.
And though the Chinese Communist Party saw fit to replace the race track with a massive municipal square and park , they liked the old clubhouse and its clocktower enough to let them stand. Today, the building’s cool marble floors and elegant worn stone staircases welcome visitors eager to view some of the best art to hit Shanghai, whether it be Chinese or foreign.
Regular exhibitions feature modern and contemporary work, from oil paintings to photography to mixed media and installations, and every other year the Shanghai Art Museum is the site of the Shanghai Biennale, an event that draws contributing curators and artists from around the world.
The museum is one of People’s Square’s prime draws, along with the Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), the Shanghai Museum, the Shanghai Grand Theatre, the Shanghai Urban Planning Museum and People’s Park. Of the lot, the Shanghai Art Museum may be the best to hit around lunchtime and dinnertime thanks to Kathleen’s Five. The rooftop restaurant features a solid menu of sides, mains, drinks and desserts and boasts an excellent view of People’s Park’s trees set against a backdrop of soaring towers.