Shanghai’s 10 Most Unusual Museums

Shanghai’s 10 Most Unusual Museums
By Susie Gordon ,

Shanghai isn’t a city you’d usually associate with an abundance of museums. Sure, everyone has heard of the Shanghai Museum, the MoCA, and the Urban Planning Hall, but thanks to the municipal government’s promise that there’ll be 100 new museums for 2010, there’s also a plethora of smaller ones that range from the mildly quirky to the downright bizarre.

Here is our round-up of the most intriguing:

1) Shanghai Glasses Museum
上海眼镜博物馆 View In Map
A glasses museum. We kid you not. This shrine to spectacles is located in the Zhabei District, right next to the Qingyun Lu optical market. If glasses aren’t really your thing, don’t worry – it’s actually more interesting than it sounds. With over 5000 pairs of specs on display, informative exhibits on optical health, and even a giant eye, it’s 10 RMB well spent, and a fun (if strange) afternoon jaunt.

Add: 533 Baochang Lu, near Zhijiang Zhong Lu, Zhabei District, Shanghai
地址: 上海闸北区宝昌路533号近芷江中路
Tel: 021 5697 7528
Opening hours: Tue–Wed and Fri–Sat 9:00–11:00pm, 14:00–16:00
Price: 10 RMB

2)  Shanghai Natural Wild-Insect Kingdom上海大自然野生昆虫馆 View In Map
A strange name for a strange museum. There are surprises around every corner at this slice of surrealism in Lujiazui: a whole floor full of turtles, a petting zoo with an owl, and myriad snakes, spiders, goats, and butterflies. It’s a giant menagerie packed with Chinglish charm. At 32 RMB a ticket (20 for children) it’s not the cheapest museum in town, but for novelty value it’s worth a trip.

Add: 1 Fenghe Lu, Pudong, Shanghai
地址: 上海浦东新区丰和路1号
Tel: 021 5840 5921
Opening hours: Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm, 9pm in summer
Price: 35 RMB
Getting there: Take subway line 2 to Lujiazui stop

3)  China Tobacco Museum中国烟草博物馆 View In Map
This three-floor paean to puffing is conveniently located opposite the Shanghai Cigarette Factory in the Yangpu District. It holds the dubious accolade of being the world’s largest tobacco museum, and pays homage to the habit which has 350 million Chinese people in its grip. It includes beautifully tacky waxwork effigies of famous smokers from history, assorted gadgets and smoking paraphernalia (including Deng Xiaopeng’s ‘baccy box) and a smoking room.

Add: 728 Changyang Lu, near Tongbei Lu, Yangpu District, Shanghai
地址:上海市杨浦区长阳路728号, 近通北路
Tel: 021 6166 5903, 6166 5970
Opening hours: Tue, Thu & Sat 9:00–16:00. Other times by appointment only.
Entry: Free
Getting there: Bus No. 22, 33, 80, 843, 934 or Subway Line 4 to Dalian Lu stop

4 ) Public Security Museum 上海公安博物馆 View In Map
This museum dedicated to the Shanghai Police Department has one of the most interestingly stocked museum gift shops in Shanghai. After perusing crime scene photographs, a mock-up padded cell, and other cop-themed artefacts, you can buy yourself a full set of police regalia. No kidding.

Add: 2-4/F, 518 Ruijin Nanlu, Shanghai
地址: 上海瑞金南路518号2-4层
Tel: 021 6472 0256, 2402 5181
Opening hours: Mon–Sat 9:00–16:00; closed on Sunday
Entry: 8 RMB, 5 RMB for students
Getting there: Bus No. 17, 43, 86, 89, 96, 205, 781, 835

5) Propaganda Museum上海宣传画艺术中心View In Map
Occupying a rather unassuming space in the basement of an apartment block, this gem of a museum is the life’s work of collector Yang Pei Ming. He displays only a fraction of the 5,000 piece collection he has amassed over 14 years. With posters including pro-Cuba slogans, Mao-era propaganda, and anti-Capitalist tracts, it’s a colourful walk through the history of a sinister but fascinating art-form.

Add: Room BOC 868, Huashan Lu, Shanghai
Tel: 021 6211 1845
Opening hours: Daily, 9am – 4.30pm
Price: 20 RMB
Getting there: Bus No. 113, 148, 543

6) Shanghai Railway Museum 上海铁路博物馆 View In Map
Whether you’re a train buff or not, the Railway Museum is worth a look. It has displays charting the history of rail travel before the PRC was founded, as well as plans for the future of China’s railways. You can take a simulated train trip from Shanghai to Suzhou, and browse over 100 items, some of which are interactive.

Add: 200 Tianmu Donglu, near Kangle Lu, Shanghai
地址: 上海天目东路200号近康乐路
Tel: 021 5122 1987, 5122 1575
Opening hours: Tue, Thu & Fri 9:00–11.30, 13:45pm – 16:30; Sat 9:00 – 16:00
Entry: 10 RMB
Getting there: Bus No. 13, 15, 18, 41, 63

7 ) China Dairy Museum中国乳业博物馆 View In Map
Milk. It’s white, functional, nutritious, but not particularly interesting, right. Wrong! The China Dairy Industry Museum proves that milk can indeed be fascinating. Don’t believe us? Go see for yourself. There are all sorts of dairy apparatus, old milking machines, and educational material.

Add: 467 Wanrong Lu, Zhabei District, Shanghai
地址: 上海闸北区万荣路467号
Tel: 021 56658452, 5603 6625-291
Opening hours: 9:00-16:30 (may vary. Call 5603 6625 for information)
Getting there: subway Line 1 to Yanchang Lu Stop

8. Shanghai Arts and Crafts MuseumView In Map
This isn’t so much unusual as off the beaten track. From the outside, it looks more like a latter-day White House that’s landed in leafy Xuhui, but inside you’ll find a huge collection of beautiful craft pieces and artworks created in Shanghai over the past hundred years: jade, bamboo carvings, costumes, and figurines, plus an overpriced (but very nice) gift shop.

Add: 79 Fenyang Lu, near Taiyuan Lu
地址: 汾阳路79号 近太原路
Opening hours: Daily 9:00 – 16:00
Price: 8 RMB

9 ) Museum of Traditional Chinese Medicine中医药博物馆 View In Map
If you’re ever at a loose end in the Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park, make your way to this museum to learn the secrets and history of TCM. There’s a giant bronze statue illustrating the 580 acupuncture points on the human body, a specimen hall, and an herb garden.

Add: 1200 Cailun Lu, Shanghai
地址: 上海蔡伦路1200号
Tel: 021 5132 2710
Opening hours: Mon – Sat 9:00 – 16:00
Entry: 15 RMB
Getting there: Daqiao Line 5 and 6

10 ) Museum of Oriental Musical Instruments 上海东方乐器博物馆View In Map
Another quirky gem on Shanghai’s museum roster, this one is part of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in that pretty section of Xuhui with all the music shops. The museum is split into four rooms, containing modern, ancient, minority, and foreign instruments respectively.

Add: 20 Fenyang Lu, near Huaihai Lu, Shanghai
地址: 上海汾阳路20号近淮海路
Tel: 021 6437 0137 ext. 2132, 6431 2157
Opening hours: Mon – Fri 9:00 – 11:00, 13:30 – 17:00
Entry: ¥10
Getting there: Bus No. 42, 45, 96, 911, 926; Sightseeing bus route: 1

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