The first question you may be asking yourself about the Shanghai Museum of Glass is why? Why would somebody go through all the trouble to make an entire museum devoted to a material we use so that we can look out our windows without having to breathe fresh air? It’s a fair question and one that I cannot answer.
But, there are three main reasons you might want to visit the Shanghai Museum of Glass: first, you are in Shanghai and you’ve got nothing else to do on a cold, rainy day. Second, you are a massive glass freak and you want to know anything and everything about glass. Good for you. Third, maybe you hate children and you want some concrete examples as to why they’re terrible. I’ll get into that later.
The Shanghai Museum of Glass
The Shanghai Museum of Glass is located in Baoshan, a far-flung district in the northern reaches of the city. It took almost an hour to take a taxi there, and it was quite expensive. Otherwise, it’s a long metro ride on line 3, and then a bus or taxi from the South Changjiang Road stop.
The building is in a run-down industrial area, next to a series of car dealerships and some sort of light manufacturing plants. Surprise, surprise. The Shanghai Museum of Glass is housed in a former glass factory. The black walls and sharp angles give it a very clean, modern feel.
The first part of the museum is a surprisingly interesting display about the history of glass, with examples of ancient glass things from both China and the West. Apparently, the Ancient Egyptians invented glass. Was there anything those crazy Egyptians couldn’t do?
There’s another section about how glass is made, and some old machinery from when the building was a factory. Then, you walk into a disco-fied display about some of the more unconventional uses of glass: Self-cleaning glass, fiber optics, even glass used for medical procedures. The displays are all in Chinese and English. You’ll leave the Shanghai Museum of Glass with a head full of glass-related facts.
After the technical stuff, there’s a small gallery of glass artwork, with pieces from artists from all over the world. Some of it is very intricate and beautiful. Some of it looks like boring high-end furniture. And some of it is broken…
Why Kids Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Run Around Unsupervised in a Glass Museum
There’s one particularly interesting sculpture hanging on the wall, that looks to be two angel wings. It took the artist two years to make the feathers from tiny glass tubes.
The bottom of the left wing is broken off, broken off, leaving just some jagged edges. Apparently, a few years ago, some bratty kids just ran up and smashed it.
There’s a little video screen displaying surveillance footage of the incident. The kids run under the rope and start screwing around with the sculpture. The parents are just standing there laughing, filming the whole thing with their phones. Yikes!
The wings aren’t the only damaged sculpture in the Shanghai Museum of Glass. In the next room sits an intricately made white glass palace. It has a bunch of little towers with golden turrets and it looks quite elegant and fancy. One of the towers is laying smashed to bits next to the sculpture.
In 2019, two kids were once again playing with the glass sculpture and broke it. The artists wanted to come back and fix it, but so far haven’t been able to because of the pandemic-related travel restrictions.
A Real Kick in the Glass
It’s bad enough that some naughty kids came into the glass museum once and broke a sculpture. It seems extra crazy to me that it’s happened twice now. Why are the parents letting their children run around wild in a museum? Even though the online listing says it’s a good place to bring kids, there aren’t really that many interactive exhibits, and it’s honestly a little bit boring. Even if your kid is really into glass, don’t parents tell their kids that glass is fragile? I feel like that’s just common sense.
And what about this museum? They didn’t have any security guards when I was there. Don’t they have the budget to hire someone to yell at people not to touch stuff? Where the hell is my 60 RMB entrance fee going?
I don’t know. Maybe we’ll never know. If you want to visit the Shanghai Museum of Glass, you can click this link: http://www.shmog.org/visit/
If you do go, try to make sure you don’t break anything.