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Shanghai Museum of Glass opens
Leave the throwing stone jokes at home and check out Shanghai’s latest museum
At some point in Shanghai’s not so distant past, if you wanted to check out a Shanghai museum, your options were limited at best. This isn't so any more, and the most recent addition is the Shanghai Museum of Glass which opened to the public this week.
“The studio glass movement in China has been growing since around 2000 or 2001,” explains Vanessa Lee Taub, the Hong Kong-based director of Galerie Vee and a strong proponent of the studio glass movement, which has worked closely with the museum for the opening. “And, the Shanghai Museum of Glass is the first serious museum of glass in China.”
Although there was a small glass museum in Xintiandi almost a decade ago, it lasted less than a year, and Taub things Shanghai's ready for this upgrade.
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Located in a former glass factory, the 6,250-square-meter, multi-building Shanghai Museum of Glass is shifting this industrial space’s function from production to art, education and exhibition, all centered around the theme, “Glass is a language of art and science.”
The complex, which retains much of the spirit of the old factory with a sleek modern design, will contain a main museum area, your typical museum shop (careful not to break anything), scattered restaurants and cafes, and, our favorite area, a demonstration space for live glass-blowing shows.
The museum is the brainchild of Zhang Lin, director of the SGC Shanghai Glass Company Limited, a glass factory which specializes in high-quality daily use products such as tableware.
Zhang wanted to support the development of Chinese glass arts and production, and for him artists in the studio glass movement became a type of research and development team, says the museum's press release, encouraging industry innovation.
This museum has a very specific task, to be a pedagogic museum and to bring understanding of glass to the public.— Vanessa Lee Taub, director of Galerie Vee
“This intersection between art and industry makes the opening of the Shanghai Museum of Glass even more significant for the Chinese glass sculpture movement,” Taub says. “This museum has a very specific task: to be a pedagogic museum and to bring understanding of glass to the public.”
Professor Zhuang Xiaowei, known in art circles as the father of the Chinese studio glass movement, was one of the the driving forces behind the museum’s development, trying to establish a relative new art medium in the quickly developing Chinese art scene.
“The good thing about this museum is that it has China State support,” says Taub, “and this is really a testament to the importance of art in support to industry and vice versa in China.”
The Museum has four main sections all set-up to educate the public as well as exhibit art.
The first section defines glass for visitors, the second tracks the history of glass in China and the West and the third area shows where we see glass in our daily lives.
The final section is closer to a typical museum, and is devoted to contemporary glass art, showing works by both international and Chinese glass sculptors.
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Chinese artists Zhuang Xiaowei, Wang Qin, Luo Xiaoshu and Qing Lin are currently showing there work there alongside international artists including Stanislav Libensky and Jaroslava Brychtova.
Although an impressive collections inside, it’s the building’s exterior that truly striking, and worth an evening visit. Industrial glass was shipped from Germany, coated with an enamel layer and then sandblasted to reveal words in various languages all relating to glass. As daylight fades, LEDS behind random tiles light up, revealing the purpose and passion of the museum.
Shanghai Museum of Glass (上海玻璃美术馆)
685 Changjiang Xi Lu, near Jiangyang Nan Lu
+86 21 6618 1970
Tuesday-Sunday: 9.30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Saturday: 9.30 a.m.- 9 p.m.
Admission: RMB 20