Saturday, March 3, 2012

Propaganda & Tobacco Museums (2/26 & 3/3/2012)

Sunday, February 26, 2012
It has been a very cold and rainy winter here in Shanghai. So when the weather cleared a bit, we were off!
We cheated by taking a taxi to Boxing Cat Brewery for lunch, then walked over to Huashan Road to find the Propaganda Poster Art Centre at #868. Number 868 was an apartment building complex. Hmmm....
When we started walking down the driveway, the guard at the gate came out with a business card-size piece of paper to hand us. It had directions to get to the poster museum, which is located in the basement of one of these nondescript apartment buildings!
The director, Yang Pei Ming himself, comes to sell you the 20RMB ticket:

You notice that this is not a museum, but an art center, and that the art of the posters is celebrated rather than the purpose. However, the fact that they call them "propaganda" posters does say something.
There is plenty of English explanation, but no photos are allowed. Everything in the earlier collection which is organized chronologically, can be found on the website or in the catalog:
"Happy Meeting of Army and People" (1950):
"Long Live the Friendship Between Soviet Union and China" (1959):
Don't you just love that poster!
"Red Detachment of Women" (1971):
Depiction from one of the few operas allowed during the Cultural Revolution.
That is only half the museum. It appears that since he put together the first exhibit, he collected a whole lot more! The second half of the museum is less carefully put together. It has older posters, more posters from eras already displayed, and other types of "art" including Dazibao (rants in bold characters usually denouncing someone) and Shanghai Girl advertisement posters. There is also an extensive shop with both original posters and prints.
As we walked along Changle Lu towards the Metro, we couldn't resist taking this photo:
A bit farther, and there was this:

Saturday, March 3, 2012
Was it going to rain or not? We walked over to The Park Tavern for lunch:

It is in a restored 1920s villa, which is hidden by the canopied patio. Said to be the most British-looking pub in Shanghai.
Since it remained rainless, we hopped on the Metro to go to the Shanghai China Tobacco Museum:
This museum is the world's largest tobacco museum, and is only open Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. You should have your passport with you, but fortunately they accepted our driver's licenses to register to enter.
The building (opened in 2004) is said to resemble a combination of an ocean-going merchantman vessel and a Maya temple, to signify that tobacco came to China from abroad. The steps were certainly Mayan-like!
Tobacco originated in South America and quickly spread throught the Americas. Christopher Columbus brought it to Europe. Spain wanted to develop tobacco plantations in the Philippines, and from there tobacco entered China through Macao and Taiwan. Smoking tobacco was limited and done with various pipe-like implements.
In 1888, some American was selling Pin Head cigarettes in Shanghai. Maybe they should name cigarettes "Pin Head" again.
British and American companies set up factories in China and sold numerous brands:
When the Communist Party took over in 1949, foreign companies had to leave. The government has done a great job at producing cigarettes since then.
However, there are counterfeit cigarettes, so we have our heroic relief statue of the counterfeit cigarette police:
Counterfeit cigarettes:
Historic Chinese smoking devices:
Snuff bottles:
Cigarette picture cards:
Apparently the smoking bar was closed today (free samples?).

Thursday, March 8, 2012
A few miscellaneous photos.
Plaza 66/Louis Vuitton reconstruction was supposed to be finished by Christmas but they refused to pay the bribes...
The scaffolding is covered with artificial Christmas tree greens:
Finally a photo of the trolley bus:
Today is International Women's Day, and the women in China have a half-day holiday. It appears they all went shopping. Kent (who worked from the Club) and I went to Grand Gateway for lunch, and there were queues at every restaurant - on a weekday! We ended up at Pizza Hut. I took a couple photos to show how the 36-page menu differs from the US:
There were even lines set up outside shops like Coach, because they limited the number of persons inside the store. Coco (a popular snack beverage kiosk) and Lillian (a baked custard vendor) had very long lines. There were just masses of people in the squares outside the shopping malls. I have never seen it so crowded.

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