How would you go about explaining the history of old Shanghai? the Shanghai Municipal History Museum took the visual path and decided that they’ll just show us. With real relics, supplemented with miniatures and puppets the history museum attempts to recreate Shanghai’s past, taking us through various scenes of what life in Shanghai used to be like. Say what you will about the historical accuracy or depth of the history shown, this decision does offer a very strong appeal especially to the younger audiences and the visiting foreigners who are tired of reading long, dull and boring artifact descriptions (not to mention that in China those are most likely written in Chinese).
So, yeah, it gets interesting sometimes with a bit of prostitution and opium addictions.
The official website writes:
About Shanghai History Museum
There are more then 30,000 cultural relics collected in Shanghai History Museum, including Shanghai ancient cultural relics and more than 18,000 pieces of Shanghai modern cultural relics (partly are the relics left by the Settlement governors).
In May of 2001, the temporary display Shanghai City’s History and Development Show, made by our museum, was moved into the Oriental Pearl Tower in Pu Dong new district. This display included five parts: Trace back to HuaTing; Style and Features in the Town; Sketch of the Port-opening; Foreign Settlement; Old footsteps in Shanghai. It entirely reflected the historical evolvement of the politics, economy, culture, society and people’s life in modern Shanghai.
Frommer has a bit more :
This excellent museum in the basement of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower in Pudong tells the history of Shanghai with an emphasis on the colonial period between 1860 and 1949. Fascinating exhibits include dioramas of the Huangpu River, the Bund, Nanjing Lu, and foreign concessions, evoking the colorful street life and lost trades of the 19th and early 20th centuries; dozens of models of Shanghai’s classic avenues and famous buildings; and a vehicle collection with trolley cars (the city line opened in 1908), 1920s sedans, and a U.S. jeep (popular after World War II) among others. Other intriguing bits include a gorgeously ornate wedding palanquin, boulders marking the concessions’ boundaries, and visiting chits used in brothels. The museum takes about an hour to tour. Tickets are purchased at the Oriental Pearl TV Tower gate. Audio headsets (¥30/$4.30/£2.15) can enhance your visit but are not crucial, as displays are well annotated in English and Chinese.
Lots to see. Street scenery…
And general everyday life…
There’s also a nice antique car collection…
Overall, not too time consuming, not too heavy on the brain, entertaining for kids and gives you a taste of Shanghai’s former life. Since you’re already going to the Oriental Pearl TV tower area to go up one of the building and see the polluted views, why not stop by?