Ningbo Museum of Art- Ningbo, China

It was only misting the morning we walked over to the Old Bund area of Ningbo. Still too wet to do an outside activity, we opted to check out the Ningbo Museum of Art. I will have to dedicate an entire post to the Old Bund, or Laowaitan once we go there in good weather. It is basically the area that the Portugese and Dutch settled when they were traders in Ningbo, so the streets are narrower and it has architecture reminiscent of Europe. It is right across the river from our hotel, so it wasn’t too long of a walk to get over to the museum. 

The most impressive aspect of this museum was the outside architecture. The architect, famous Chinese architect Wang Shu, designed this building as the “ark of art.” As we moved through a series of ramps to the entrance with giant doors, we were entering the ark of art. The museum is completely covered in wood and was built in the old Ningbo harbor waiting room/cargo shipping warehouse. It was a really neat building, and really stood out from its surroundings!
GIANT ark door
Upstairs small gallery

A whole gallery of Chinese lettering- these looked like shrimps!

The whole museum had a very industrial, sterile, open look that contrasting wildly with the richly decorated, small, house-like art museums I visited recently in the Netherlands. Entrance was free because they were setting up a new exhibit so there were only three collections on display. If I was by myself, I would have been disappointed there was not more to see, but being there with a toddler with a limited attention span, it was a perfect 45 minutes to an hour we spent admiring the art and architecture. 

The first gallery (pictured in the two photos above) mostly included unfurled scrolls of Chinese characters. While Chinese calligraphy is beautiful, I’m sure it would have been more meaningful for me had I been able to read what the lettering said on the scrolls. A few had an interesting style to them, I’m not sure if it is saying actual words, or if they were shrimp or other sea life placed to look like Chinese characters. Although some of the placards had English translations, most did not unless the artist had named the title in English/Latin characters. So I was just left to admire the art for what I could see. 
Wood block etchings

I appreciate art, but I’m not an art historian or avid art lover, so I’m sorry my explanations are not as great as they could be. Downstairs, there was a whole exhibit of what looked like stamped paintings. Again, nothing was in English, and everything was black and white so it was not as interesting for Landon. In one of the rooms, they had the original wood blocks on display that the stamped prints came from. Looking at the detail carved into the wood, I gained a new appreciation for this art medium! There were lots of scenes of Chinese city scapes, both traditional and modern, as well as a series with Paris as the theme/backdrop. 


Some color! Yay!

Next up was a gallery with their permanent exhibition. It contained a wide variety of calligraphy, landscapes, smaller subject still-lifes and animal paintings. Some were very colorful, while others just used a few colors. I thought it was interesting and different that all of the paintings were mounted on longer scrolls of textured paper. I don’t think we made it to an art museum in Korea, so I’m not sure if this is an East Asian thing or a Chinese thing. It was cool, regardless. The doors in between galleries were as tall as the ones coming into the museum. I wondered if these were left over from the building’s days as a cargo warehouse, or if they were designed to go with the ark theme. Either way, they definitely made a statement!

Pretty blossums
Flowers by local artist

In a side gallery, they had a painting by this man- a local artist that was an art teacher and I guess is famous throughout China for his artwork. I thought his art was pretty, and my favorite was this really long scroll that they ran along the bottom of one of the showcases with many different paintings and sketches. 
Scroll with calligraphy and sketches
Colorful scrolls in the main gallery

This painting had so much detail- it looked so real!

After the museum, we wandered around in the rain checking out the Old Bund, which is mostly filled with bars and breweries. I was kind of trying to find a Mexican place I saw on a map that should have been in the vicinity, but I never did. Maybe next time? I thought I found Mexican before, but it ended up being a handbag store. That was a giant disappointment. This pregnant lady loves her chips and salsa this pregnancy!

One last photo of the outside of the Ark of Art!

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