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A new home for the past

Updated: 2018-04-09 07:23:40

( China Daily )

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An elaborately decorated sedan chair commissioned by a merchant from nearby Zhejiang province greets them in the lobby.

He hired 10 experienced wood carvers, who took 10 years to complete the piece. It features hundreds of traditional Chinese opera characters rendered in wood, painted glass, lacquer and embroidery. It was then the showpiece of his Wuhua Leasing Shop for Wedding and Funeral Articles.

Many of the craftsmanship genres used to make the chair have been lost amid rapid modernization.

The ground floor exhibition hall features a giant LED screen as well as interactive electronic games that visitors can play to learn about Shanghai's past.

Two bronze lions created by British artist Henry Poole occupy the central space in front of the big screen. They were commissioned to adorn the Bund-facing entrance of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp in 1923, when the financial institution opened its new Shanghai office. The creatures guarded the bank until 1966, when the Shanghai History Museum added them to its collection.

A 77-year-old visitor, who only gave his surname, Tang, recalls seeing the lions when he played on the Bund as a child.

"Every edge, crack and corner on the lions is so familiar to me," he says.

"This is the museum of our own city's history. Lots of tourists will come. We locals should, too."

The upstairs area's displays chronicle Shanghai's changes, starting with relics from 6,000 years ago. It features a cannon used in the first Opium War (1840-42). Other displays reveal the development of art, culture and industrialization over the centuries. About four-fifths of the items are on public display for the first time.

The west wing's exhibits open with over 50 displays about the former mayor Chen, donated by his children.

"My father spent the happiest years of his career in Shanghai," his son Chen Danhuai says.

On show are the piano, desk, gramophone and other objects Chen Yi and his wife, Zhang Qian, used during their stay in the city.

He later served as China's foreign minister. The qipao dresses made by Shanghai's Hongxiang Fashion Co that she wore for official overseas visits are also displayed.

The museum is also hosting two temporary exhibitions that will run until June 24. One is about how The Communist Manifesto ignited the Chinese revolution, while the other details the history of the museum buildings.

If you go
9 am-5 pm, Tuesday to Sunday. 325 Nanjing Road West, Huangpu district, Shanghai.

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