Museums China

Shanghai Film Museum rolls out the red carpet

Newly opened space celebrates Chinese cinema

On the fourth floor, visitors enter the galleries through a hallway of mirrors and flashing red lights simulating a red carpet

Shanghai’s history as a cradle of cinema in the early decades of the 20th century is well known to film buffs but less to the general public, even in China. The newly opened Shanghai Film Museum aims to raise awareness of that heritage and re-energise the city’s contemporary film programming.

“[We] have had more than 50,000 visitors and 450 tour groups between the 16 June opening and September,” says a spokeswoman for the museum. The high turnout comes despite the RMB60 ($9.80) price of the entrance ticket, relatively high for Shanghai.

The museum was designed to impress as well as educate, starting in the main atrium where gilded miniature cameras and props hang from the ceiling and a massive video wall greets visitors. On the fourth floor, visitors enter the galleries through a hallway of mirrors and flashing red lights simulating a red carpet.

The museum’s 10,000 sq. m of exhibition space includes some interactive displays, like animation and sound effects studios, as well as the usual models and dioramas. Tributes to classic Shanghai films and their stars fill the top floor, expanding into studio development on the third floor, particularly the projects of its parent company, Shanghai Film Studios. Zhang says that the museum shows around 3,000 items from the 30,000-strong archive of memorabilia it has collected and about 30% of the exhibitions will rotate.

The Shanghai Film Group built the museum as part of a redevelopment of its former studios, which included the controversial demolition of a former Carmelite Convent, dating to 1874, which has now been rebuilt in vague replica.

According to the museum spokeswoman, the new museum is part of the Chinese government’a efforts to encourage more museums as well as the film industry; construction started in July 2009, and the exhibitions have been planned since October 2010, at a total cost of RMB1.5bn ($24.5m). well as the usual models and dioramas
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