Ningbo Museum is designed by Wang Shu, the first Chinese citizen to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize. The design is a conceptual combination of mountains, water and oceans. The first floor of the museum is constructed as a whole part, while the building starts to tilt on the second floor, giving the whole building a mountain and also a boat shape. This design alludes the geographical feature in Ningbo as well as the importance of over-sea commerce in its history, thus making the museum a symbol of Ningbo history and culture.
The outer wall decoration of Ningbo Museum is made in two ways. Some walls are decorated by millions of tiles collected in local areas. This sort of decoration itself was a common way of building an economical house in old days in Ningbo when cements are not introduced. Other walls are decorated with cement-covered bamboos. It is reported that Ningbo Museum was the first museum built with large number of used materials. Ningbo Tengtou Pavilion in Shanghai World Expo also employed the similar decoration.