On Saturday morning, I visited the Suzhou Museum. I have been in the area around the museum, which includes the old canals and the Humble Administrator’s Garden, but never had the time until now to venture inside.
The museum is more a culture and heritage museum than an art museum. Its collection is primarily traditional Chinese items, though it does have a contemporary art wing as well. For me, however, the main attraction was the building itself. It was designed by the architect I. M. Pei, whose family has long resided in Suzhou.
The museum’s architecture incorporates the shapes and elements the adjacent traditional gardens and palaces, including its own gardens, pools and rockeries, but stripping away the ornaments and focusing on the lines and geometry. This extends to the interior as well:
Overall, the architecture and design of the museum was quite photogenic, and readers should look for more examples in future photo series, and of course “Wordless Wednesday.”
One exhibit recreated a traditional Chinese study, and suggest that traditional elements of Chinese design can fit very easily into a modern context:
I wish my office looked like that.
I did take some time to see a few of the traditional artifacts, including several examples of animal figures such as this black-and-white jade cat:
Before the new museum building opened in 2006, it was housed in the neighboring Zhong Wang Fu, a traditional Chinese mansion with gardens and courtyards. The grounds and buildings have been restored and remain open to the public:
One can observe which elements were incorporated into the new building, and which ones were not.