Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Shanghai Municipal History Museum

The Shanghai Municipal History Museum is located in a corner of People's Park and focuses on the story of Shanghai, principally from the opening of the port in 1843 to the communist takeover in 1949, with a few relics from early Shanghai.  Upon entering the museum, I am greeted by two bronze lions, named Stephen and Stitt, that were brought from the UK in 1923 to guard the HSBC Bank building on the Bund.  Stitt was named after HSBC's Hong Kong and Shanghai Manager.

 Stephen and Stitt

In the lobby of the museum, just after the lions, is the "Hundred-Bead Wedding Sedan Chair," which was hand-carved by ten wood carvers over ten years and features 100 flashlamps.

 Wedding sedan chair

The museum is featuring a special exhibition of Chinese art from the late 19th century, when Shanghai was the center of Chinese oil painting, providing rich depictions of history, urban landscapes, cultural heritage, and context for historical documents and relics.   A sign at the beginning of the exhibit puts it bluntly, "History is grim, but with paintings, vivid it is!"

 19th century Chinese oil paintings

The older relics displayed in the museum start with early Shanghai objects dating from the Majaibang Culture around 8000 BC, followed by more modern relics from the Songze Culture (3800-3300 BC).

 Majaibang, Songze relics

Silk garments and documents from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD) lead us closer to current times.

 Ming Dynasty

Next, we move to more current exhibits, with examples of shipping and industry in Shanghai in the mid-to-late 1800s, followed by the early 1900s and art deco Shanghai.

 Mid-19th century

 1920s, 1930s

From industry, the displays transition to war and conflict, starting with the liberation of Shanghai from the Japanese in 1911.

 Liberation of Shanghai

And, ending our tour through Shanghai history, we reach the Communist Revolution and the occupation of Shanghai by the Chinese People's Liberation Army in 1949.

 Communist revolution

Finishing up, I wander a bit the the beautiful museum grounds and consider what I have learned of the rich, varied, and culturally diverse history of this great city

 Museum buildings and grounds

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