First Stop: 80 days of walking in Shanghai – “WuLiXiang" Museum
“WuLiXiang" means home, it is also the place where people were born and lived in Shanghai before the 90s, when neighbors were living in the same neighborhood, and sharing living utensils, stoves and toilets, despite all the inconveniences, have become the fondest memories of us. Now, as Shikumen is gradually replaced by new residential and commercial buildings, Shanghainese living in commercial buildings will no longer be able to queue up for a communal kitchen and take a public bath; nor will they be able to chat with their neighbors on summer nights when there is no air conditioning, carrying bamboo chairs and rocking fans at the front door. And not to say that the modern Shanghai women who wore tight cheongsams and stockings in the 1920s and frequently appeared in pictorials, daily necessities billboards and junk covers could only be found in TV dramas and movies.
The Shikumen Museum in Xintiandi gives us a place to reminisce about old Shanghai and trace our historical memories, and also provides a platform for foreign visitors to understand Shanghai’s history and culture. It is preserved and remodeled from an old Stonegate house built in the 1920s. The museum covers an area of 367.2 square meters, with a construction area of 513.9 square meters, and is built according to the model of a single-family house in the 1920s. It mainly displays and introduces the functions of each room, including the living room, study room, elders’ room, parents’ room, daughter’s room, son’s room, kitchen and pavilion room. All the objects on display in the museum, such as stoves, children’s textbooks, lipstick, or cigarette holders, are all from the 1920 to 1930 that remain in the Stonehenge Alley.
Through WeChat scanning, audio commentary, and projectors, visitors from all over the world can learn about the life of the Shanghai middle class in the 1920s and 1930s. No matter which room one walks into, each carefully placed piece of furniture and personal belongings is a true return to history and a microcosm of the Shanghai culture of the time.
The most noteworthy of these is pavilion room. The pavilion is a small room at the turn of the stairs of the Shikumen, in which many interesting historical stories have happened. This room is usually north-facing and it is cold in winter and hot in summer, so that it was used for rent to increase revenue. In the 1920s and 1930s, many progressive literary and artistic people came to Shanghai in search of a new life in order to escape the white terror of the mainland. Most of these literati were bachelors with no family members, who studied hard, wrote, and carryed out various artistic activities in this humble room. Many famous literary figures such as Lu Xun, Cai Yuanpei, Guo Moruo, Mao Dun, Ba Jin, Ding Ling, Feng Zikai and others used to live in pavilion rooms. These literati not only lived in the pavilions, but their works also dealt extensively with the lives of the pavilions and Shikumen, this phenomenon was called “pavilion literature".
Name of venue: “WuLiXiang"-White Box
Address: No. 25, Lane 181, Taicang Road, Shanghai, China, 200021
Transportation: Metro Line 10/13 Xintiandi Station
Tickets: RMB 20 for adults, RMB 16 for students, RMB 10 for seniors/children
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 10:00-22:00 (Box office open until 21:30); closed on New Year’s Eve
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