Shanghai really comes into its own when it comes to the arts - a rich tradition and texture underpins this vibrant city, provoking and challenging and entertaining. Adding vitality and dimension at every turn to make it one of the world’s truly interesting and inspiring cities.
1. Kung Fu Komedy
Homegrown hilarity well worth checking out. KFK stages shows Wednesday thru Saturday, with a mix of local and international talent, with occasional imported Big Name guests. Never tried stand up before? Join their Open Mic on Sunday or Wednesday, safely thousands of miles from home!
2. Shanghai Circus World
Lively, spirited, and entertaining. Think Cirque du Soleil with a local twist. In the dazzling show, ERA - Intersection of Time, terracotta warriors rev up their motorcycles and blast through space in this acrobatics-meets-modern-tech spectacular. Some say miss this show and you miss Shanghai.
3. Shanghai Bo Wu Guan Museum
With some pieces dating back 8000 years, Bo Wu Guan is a crash course in Chinese civilization. Over 1,000,000 prized ceramics, bronze, paintings, calligraphy, coins and jade form this world-class collection in downtown People’s Square. The building itself teaches you a lot about Chinese philosophy.
4. M50 Art District
At 50 Moganshan Road (hence the name) this enclave sprung up in a disused industrial area, reclaiming and repurposing vast warehouses as cool art spaces, studios, and galleries, with attendant coffee shops. Discover new and upcoming contemporary artists like pop artist Go Xin Ru.
5. PowerStation of Art (PSA)
This former power station – with its iconic chimney - provided China’s first light in 1897. Now it’s the first Chinese state-run museum dedicated to contemporary art, and home of the excellent Shanghai Biennale with its progressive curation of local and international artists on show.
6. Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)
Set in a downtown park setting, with natural light streaming in floor-to-ceiling windows MOCA is a 7-storey masterpiece. Bringing art to the people and fostering understanding of graphic design locally and internationally, MOCA stages exhibitions such as Gaudi, Ferragamo, to Pixar and local Animamax shows.
7. Rockbund Art Museum (RAM)
At the urban-renewal north end of the Bund, this space positions itself as the Bund’s only contemporary art museum, and engages with regular exhibitions by leading local names such as Zheng Fanzi and Cai Guo Ciang, and tapping into social issues with its RAM@night program.
8. Film Art Center
This cinema is always the epicenter of the Shanghai International Film Festival, and shows local indie productions (often hosting cool director Q and A’s) plus international blockbusters. Film buffs will love the massive screens with Dolby Atmos sound systems, among the largest in the world.
9. Art Deco Cinemas
Relics from Shanghai’s grand old age, there are numerous atmospheric examples of Art Deco Cinema to enjoy in various states of original preservation. Try the Cathay Cinema (1932), Stellar International Complex (1932), or Grand Cinema (1933) with its wrought iron railings, marble statues, etc.
10. YuYinTang (YYT) Livehouse
If you’re in the mood for something edgier, find your way to YYT at 851 Kaixuan Rd, which has established itself as the premier underground live music venue in Shanghai. Mixed bag of live acts, cheap booze, friendly locals, every night is something different here.