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There are a great number of museums in Shanghai, however, there are some that you may never have seen before. From the Chopsticks Kingdom to the Palace of Music Boxes, Shanghai is brimming with unexpected fun.
For a more mainstream look at the best of Shanghai's museums see:
Now let's look at the most unusual museums...
What makes it unique: The Shanghai Typewriter Museum is the third typewriter museum in the world after the British Museum and the Museum of Lausanne. The museum has collected nearly 300 typewriters of 32 brands and 14 languages from Britain, France, Germany, the United States, Italy and other countries.
Must-see attraction: The oldest typewriter: the Redwood beauty made in 1809.
What makes it unique: On the first floor, the museum will show you a fantastic history of animation beginning with Chinese shadow play to the Disney characters of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck in America. The hall is full of movie posters interspersed with life-size statues and film clips. The second floor is a paradise for kids as well as a commercial area. Popular cartoon dubbing can even be done here.
Must-see attraction: The cinema at the top (includes entrance fee).
What makes it unique: Different kinds of music boxes are displayed, most of which were made in Europe.
Must-see attraction: The oldest music box in the world: a small golden contraption which was made in 1796.
What makes it unique:This museum is small and cold, it is perhaps the smallest museum in Shanghai. Displayed in the showcases on the first floor are different kinds of chopsticks collected by the 81-year-old writer, Lan Xiang, who has travelled to lots of places in Asia. There is a total of more than 2,000 pairs of chopsticks, among which is a pair of gold plated silver chopsticks descended from the Tang Dynasty.
Must-see attraction: The book Chinese Chopsticks, written by Lan Xiang, which contains three languages: Chinese, English and French.
What makes it unique: Beginning with the history of manufacturing ink, the museum, which has only one room, introduces the story of how the ink was transferred to Shanghai. The glass showcase displays a variety of ink and brushes, while the scroll on the wall shows the beauty of Chinese calligraphy.
Must-see attraction:There is an audio commentary beside each of the exhibits which tells the stories behind these artworks.
What makes it unique: It is located in the post office which was built in the colonial era and has an aristocratic glass atrium. Having a careful layout, it shows the story of early post in detail and displays the tortoiseshell and inscribed bamboo slips as well as the clay seal letters used to ensure the privacy of letters.
Must-see attraction: The yellowing old letters which postmarked the concession.
What makes it unique:There are 8,000 exhibits in this museum, which show the history from the mid-nineteenth century to the present security forces. Various wax statues of patrol staff such as the Indians, English and Chinese, as well as rich and comprehensive exhibits ranging from badges, uniforms and posters to the full function of emergency vehicles are displayed in the spacious hall.
Must-see attraction: The pistol kept by Sun Yat-sen.
What makes it unique: This museum is located in the former Jewish Mose hall built in 1927 by Russian Jews. The original church site was on the first floor, while the second is used to display the artworks related to Judaism. The most attractive pavilion is the outside hall, where the story about how the Jews escaped and sought refuge during World War II is narrated in detail.
Must-see attraction: The story about the Jewish man who missed his lover, Miss Huang, from Shanghai. Obviously, Miss Huang left him because of someone who she thought was a foreign oil tycoon but found that he just owned a gas station in Texas.
What makes it unique: Shanghai Museum of Glass (SHMOG) is a relatively new museum, started in 2011, dedicated to the history and beauty of glass. The museum, a fresh perspective on the cultural scene, has been built within a renovated factory, and is quite well maintained, with different buildings housing different aspects of glass, including production, glass work with fire, live DIY glass craft with audience participation, and of course, the museum of display itself, highlighting a bit of the history as well.
There is a store too, where you can get glass trinkets, wine glasses, crockery, etc made at the glass factory. The only drawback is the location, which is a bit far out from Shanghai's heart, about 45 minutes by cab. And we suggest you go early in the day, as getting a cab back might be a hassle.
Must-see attraction: The ongoing special glass exhibition called 'Keep It Glassy' that has put on display artwork in glass by over 50 designers from across the globe. There are some exquisite things in glass to be seen, so don't miss it.
What makes it unique: Xintiandi is quite well known for its Shikumen-style (period houses from the 1920s) architecture. The entire area is characterized by buildings of this style. However, the northern block of Xintiandi has a special Shikumen House Museum. This museum, easy to miss if you're not paying attention, is a great way to get transferred to a different era of Shanghai. The house has been renovated well, and depicts how life was in a typical, upper middle-class family home at that time. The way to the exit houses a typical high-class curio store, where you can pick up a gift or two if you wish.
Must-see attraction: Each room in this house has been carefully maintained, with great attention to detail. Do spend sometime in the kitchen area to get a glimpse of an ancient steamer (not difficult to imagine steaming dumplings along with it), and the bedrooms which have a deep personal aura, complete with family photos et all - eerie to some extent if you have an active imagination!
While most of the attractions on our Shanghai tours are the most popular highlights of Shanghai, we specialize in customizing a tour to how you want it. So if you want to visit any of the above museums or another more unusual place in Shanghai, just let us know and we'll build it in.