SCHOTT solutions no. 2/2011 > Glass Museum

The Shanghai Museum of Glass is devoted to the history of glass and the influences of cultures and features 5,000 square meters of floor space. Designed in an interactive manner, the museum encourages visitors to experiment in a playful manner and thus gain new experiences with glass. Photo:

Bridge between Cultures

The Shanghai Museum of Glass that opened in May, 2011, seeks to share the endless possibilities that glass offers with as many people as possible.

Dr. Haike Frank

The art of glass became established as an academic discipline rather quickly in Europe and the United States in the 1970s. China followed suit 10 to 15 years later. Zhuang Xiaowei, in the meantime an internationally recognized artist, played an important role here. Shanghai University convinced him to earn his Master of Arts degree in glass at the School of Art and Design at the University of Wolverhampton in 1998.
After he had returned to China, the English University provided him with technical support in establishing a glass studio at Shanghai University’s Institute of Fine Art. Today, the institute receives a lot of recognition from the international artist scene. Thanks to his multi-cultural experiences, Zhuang Xiaowei has been able to introduce new approaches to the Chinese art of glass and secure an important role for glass as a material in Chinese art history. The experienced artist and teacher received an order from the Shanghai Glass Company to set up an interactive, interdisciplinary glass museum inside its old, shut down melting plant. The large factory buildings located in the north of the global metropolis that are literally surrounded by historic charm offer more than 5,000 square meters of exhibition space.

The story of the history of glass in both the Occident and Orient, but also the mutual influences of the different cultures during their history, is told inside the museum. This is all about the diversity and concurrency of glass, everything is repeated elsewhere and causes each other. This is the basic motif for the exhibit, symbolically displayed in the form of a kaleidoscope that is used inside the museum in many different ways: from a kaleidoscope room to an optical display of the exhibit of contemporary art.
”Thanks to Zhuang Xiaowei, the museum manages to unite different worlds and cultures,” explains Tilman Thürmer, the German architect whom Zhuang hired for the interior architecture and the design of the museum. (see also the interview). ”During this German-Chinese project, he put the main focus on inspiring and assisting and gaining a better understanding of each other. Otherwise, we never would have been successful,” Thürmer adds.

Built in an interactive manner, the museum views itself to be a place of experience with its experimental and play stations. The exhibition breaks away from traditional museum concepts and displays glass as a versatile material. It plays witness to our culture and history, a functional material of aesthetic and artistic value, the basis for innovations and a material used in everyday life that brings people together. The museum serves as a good place to meet and attracts a lot of visitors to the exhibit, thanks to the many cultural events and artistic workshops on glass that are held here. <|