China Nantong Abacus Museum – Nantong, China - Atlas Obscura

China Nantong Abacus Museum

Nantong, China

The world's foremost museum dedicated entirely to the abacus. 


The city of Nantong, situated at the north bank of the Yangtze river’s estuary, not only houses China’s oldest museum (the Nantong Museum, founded by Zhang Qian in 1905) but also some of its weirdest. China Nantong Abacus Museum, located by the Haohe River, offers a permanent exhibition covering 6000 square meters, making it the world’s largest museum dedicated to the history of the abacus.

The main focus is on the Chinese abacus, although other cultures are also covered. Archeological finds are presented along with more modern, artful abacuses (including Buddhist and Daoist abacuses and a miniature pagoda constructed entirely out of abacuses) and imaginative applications such as the calendar abacus. Artwork depicting the abacus throughout Chinese history is also presented.

Most of the information, including recorded audio guides, is in Chinese only, but the abacuses tend to speak for themselves.

Know Before You Go

The museum is located just north of the city centre. The Chinese address is ???58??. Buses 37 and 45 stop nearby.

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