A bell made in 1934 by the Tou-Se-We Orphanage's workshop in Xujiahui. The orphanage for boys was founded by Catholic missionaries during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). (Jiang Xiaowei)
Shanghai History Museum started a private trial run yesterday and is scheduled to open at the end of March.
Exhibited items will show all aspects of political, social, cultural and commercial life from ancient to modern times.
About 1,000 relics and artifacts, from 4000 BC to the foundation of the People's Republic of China in 1949, will be put on permanent exhibition at the museum, with 80 percent of them being shown to the public for the first time.
The museum is housed in the former building of Shanghai Race Club near People's Square in the city center. Only historians, museum officials and invited visitors will be admitted during the private trial run.
Shanghai Daily was given the opportunity to take a look inside the museum yesterday.
The permanent exhibition occupies four floors of the five-story east building of the complex. Among the exhibits awaiting visitors are a decorative Chinese bridal sedan chair coated in gold, a baton used by constables of the International Settlement Police in Shanghai, wood for paving Nanjing Road in the 19th century, and a girl's bedroom furniture during the time of the Republic of China.
Especially impressive are the multimedia and interactive features of the museum that are available in over 50 spots.
Touch screens enable visitors to try their hand at using different tools to smelt a piece of jade work. An interactive feature can take a picture of a visitor's face and paste it on the body of a moving figure on a large screen showing the iconic Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall at the beginning of the last century.
Even a brief tour of the museum's contents can take up to an hour, but a detailed look will require up to four hours.
Zhang Lan, former curator of Shanghai History Museum, said he hopes the museum will inspire visitors to explore over 100 other museums in Shanghai that specialize in aspects of the city's history.
"We hope to build a museum for all people, and that's why we will be carefully listening to feedback from visitors during the trial run and improve the museum to meet their expectations," Zhang said.
Shanghai History Museum as an institution was established in 1953 but until now it had never found a permanent home, with most of its relics — over 110,000 items — kept in a storage facility in Zhoupu Town, Pudong.
The neoclassical building of Shanghai Race Club, located at the crossroads of Nanjing Road W. and Huangpi Road N., has housed Shanghai Museum, Shanghai Library and Shanghai Art Museum over the past six decades, and an interior renovation for its latest reincarnation started two years ago. The original building was built in 1863 but demolished in 1933.
Entrance to the permanent exhibition of the museum will be free, and it is estimated about 3 million people will visit the museum every year.
From next month till January 2019, a few temporary exhibitions have been planned at the museum whose themes include Asian relics, Shanghai in postcards, European ceramics and furniture during the Republic of China, among others.
The museum also has two branches — the Museum of Songze Ruins in Qingpu District and Shanghai Yuan Dynasty Water Gate Museum in Putuo District.