Suzhou Museum West is located about 10 kilometres to the west of the previous Suzhou Museum building designed by Ieoh Ming Pei and completed in 2006.
The new complex designed by the gmp studio, exhibits the entire collection of antique Chinese art housed in the museum since 1960, as well as presenting the history of the city of Suzhou from the Paleolithic period up until the modern day.
The museum’s design concept replicates the principle of combining architecture and nature used for the first building. Together with two other structures, a science museum and a theatre, this new complex forms a cultural trio to the south of the Shishan Square Cultural Plaza at the heart of the National Hi-Tech District.
This new “park” area that includes an artificial lake, faces the panoramic Lion Mountain skyline, and is destined to become the centre of the city’s business district.
The museum designed by gmp consists of ten blocks, each with a 25 metre-sided square base and clad inside and out with Portuguese limestone, chosen for its colour. The blocks are arranged so that they form an entrance area, which stands opposite the Lion Mountains to the west and welcomes visitors into an airy 29-metre-high space.
Divided into three floors, the blocks are grouped around an atrium that receives daylight from high level strip windows. The basement contains a restaurant, a canteen, an auditorium, and various halls for temporary exhibitions.
The museum has an exhibition area of 13,391 square metres with 6 permanent exhibition halls: the General History Exhibition Hall, the Suzhou Crafts Gallery, the International Cooperation Hall, the Calligraphy and Painting Hall, the Suzhou Lifestyle Hall, and the Exploration and Experience Hall.
The General History Exhibition Hall displays a series of precious exhibits, including Yumo, the King of Wu’s sword, “The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Sutra" written on turquoise gold-leaf paper, a three-legged drum, a vase for loquat offerings and other items that recount the long history of the Wu kingdom through its craftsmanship.
In the exhibition halls, 19 and 37 mm diameter Palco LV luminaires have been used in every showcases and this creates an atmosphere with low levels of general lighting that consequently draws the visitor’s attention towards the exhibits in the showcases.
In the International Cooperation Hall, View spotlights have been installed. Here, a series of world-famous museums have agreed to contribute to the creation of temporary exhibitions that will reinforce Suzhou Museum West’s international dimension.
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