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Hard-to-find museum named one of 10 best in country by travel site
2014-11-06
By Hu Min

A SMALL museum hidden away in a city basement has been ranked the sixth best in China by leading travel website TripAdvisor.

The Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center was rated above the National Museum of China in Beijing in the 2014 TripAdvisor poll by website users.

Covering just 400 square meters, the museum at 868 Huashan Road in Xuhui District attracts 60 to 70 visitors a day on weekdays, rising to around 150 visitors a day at weekends.

More than 90 percent of visitors are from overseas, said curator Yang Peiming.

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On display are around 400 posters dating back to as early as the 1910s, with many combining fine art and heavy political symbolism.

Yang says the posters provide an insight into China’s past and ideological changes over the years not seen in other museums.

This may help explain the appeal to visitors, he added.

“Posters record history with an artistic approach, making them unique and meaningful,” Yang told Shanghai Daily.

“You need to take time to experience the glamor of these posters as they are silent witnesses to history,” he added.

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Yang began his collection in 1995, and while he also buys antiques, calligraphy and paintings, says these can’t compare to the fun of collecting posters.

At first, he bought from printing factories, bookstores and publishing houses nationwide, then later from brokers and auctions.

Now his collection stands at around 6,000 posters.

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Yang says he has rejected numerous offers for his posters, including one from an investment agency offering 10 million yuan (US$1.63 million) for the whole collection.

“I don’t want to make money from these posters. I hope to collect pieces of history for the younger generation to learn about bygone eras,” he said.

Poster collections are rare in China, making Yang’s more unusual and precious.

The late Chinese leader Mao Zedong features in many posters in the collection, which also includes images of smiling workers with slogans attached, and depictions of beautiful Shanghai women that traditionally appeared in old calendars.

The Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center is tucked away in a residential community and almost all reviews on TripAdvisor mention that it is hard to find.

However, most say that tracking it down is well worth the effort.

A TripAdvisor user from Montreal, using the name jackk21, said the collection offers an glimpse into history.”

“I would not classify this as a museum but more as an exhibit! With cultural artifacts giving you a peek into China’s past.”

User Kellie I said that while the museum is little-known, a visit is a must-do activity while in Shanghai.

“The images are beautiful pieces of art as well as historical documents.”

Admission is 20 yuan and the museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm.

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