Shanghai is filled with interesting museums, and they will educate, intrigue and delight children with exhibitions of animation characters, insects and chopsticks, to name a few.
Here are some lesser-known, non-art museums scattered around the city. They’re good destinations on weekends and when foul air means that outdoor activities are canceled.
Children will love this museum covering the world history of cartoons and animation. The first floor covers history, from China’s shadow puppets to Disney’s characters. The main hall is filled with posters and life-sized statues. Short animation is screened.
In a second-floor studio, children can dub voices for favorite characters.
Address: 69 Zhangjiang Rd, Pudong New Area
Opening hours: 10am-5pm, closed on Mondays
Admission: 30 yuan
Brush and Ink Museum
The one-room museum covers the history of ink, inkstones and brushes. It explains how to make ink and features stories about Shanghai and its calligraphers. Brushes and inkstones are displayed, each with an English audio explanation.
Address: 2/F, 429 Fujian Road M., Huangpu Distict
Opening hours: 9:30am-5:30pm, daily
This is one of the city’s smallest museums and it’s a bit rundown. It’s the personal exhibition of Lan Xiang, who has collected 2,000 pairs of chopsticks from around Asia. Lan, 81, lives upstairs. If inclined, the former writer can discuss his chopstick journeys. The prized pair is a gilded silver set from the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907).
Address: 191 Duolun Rd, Hongkou District
Opening hours: Call in advance
The museum, a former glass furnace workshop, explains the making of glass as well as artistic glass pieces. Works from China and overseas are displayed. The museum itself is visually dramatic with its play of light and shadow. It features interactive displays.
Address: Bldg 8, 685 Changjiang Rd W., Baoshan District
Opening hours: 9:30am-4:30pm, closed on Mondays
Admission: 20 yuan
The museum contains more than a million specimens of insects from around the world, many rare and beautiful, some extinct. It contains what many consider the world’s most beautiful insect, the electric blue Morpho Helena from South America. The museum was founded in 1868 and once called the British Museum in Asia. Today it’s in a modern building.
Address: 300 Fenglin Rd, Xuhui District
Opening hours: 9am-4pm
Admission: 15 yuan for adults, 10 yuan for children
Jewish Refugee Museum
The museum is housed in the former Ohel Moshe Synagogue built in 1927. It memorializes the time when Shanghai gave refuge to all people fleeing Nazi Germany. Between 1937 and 1941, Shanghai gave sanctuary to around 25,000 Jewish refugees without visas.
The museum contains many cultural relics, scrolls and photographs of Jewish life in the city at the time. It contains a database with the names of Jewish refugees who lived in Shanghai.
Address: 62 Changyang Rd, Hongkou District
Opening hours: 9am-5pm
Admission: 50 yuan
Music Box Museum
The exhibition features the European music boxes and gramophones of a Japanese collector. It showcases what it calls the world’s oldest music box, a small, gold-colored box made by Swiss watchmaker Antol Fabre in 1796. One music box shows a little boy who reaches for a jam jar, but when the box is wound, the angry face of his grandmother appears.
Address: 425 Dingxiang Rd, inside Shanghai Oriental Art Center, Pudong New Area
Opening hours: 10am-5pm
Admission: 50 yuan
This is a wonderful free museum with a beautiful Baroque clock tower, rooftop garden and glassed-in courtyard. The 1924 landmark building was the original Shanghai Postal Museum and explains the history of the postal service in China. It’s filled with interesting exhibits, concession-period post marks, clay seals and postage stamps. It offers an excellent low-level view, west up Suzhou Creek and east towards the Pudong skyline with the Art Deco Broadway Mansions in front.
Tel: 6393-6666 ext. 1280
Address: 250 Suzhou Rd, Hongkou District
Opening hours: Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, 9am-5pm
Public Security Museum
Nearly 8,000 items are showcased in the museum about public security from the mid-19th century to date. Wax policemen wear uniforms from China, India and England. Uniforms, badges, weapons and emergency vehicles are displayed. The highlight is a pistol owned by Dr Sun Yat-sen.
Address: 2-4/F, 518 Ruijin Rd S., Huangpu District
Opening hours: 11am-4pm, closed on Sundays
Admission: 8 yuan
For those who forget what preceded the computer, this museum exhibits 50 typewriters, the oldest made in 1809. They are on loan from Lu Hanbin, a Chinese businessman living in the Czech Republic.