Propaganda Poster Art Centre

Entrance Ticket Propaganda Museum ShanghaiIt had been on my list for a long time now, a visit to the Propaganda Poster Art Museum in Shanghai. Fascinated by the few propaganda posters I had seen on the Internet we finally made it there last weekend. It was a cold weekend anyway so what better way than spend the afternoon in a basement. That’s just where the museum is, in the basement of building B, part of an apartment complex on Huashan Lu in the former French Concession. No signs leading the way but the door to a small hallway of Building B was open so we entered, took the stairs down and entered the forlorn world of Propaganda, Communism style.

Mao Red Book StudentsOn display are utopian posters from the Mao era (1949-1979), among them happy posters showing Farmers in the field with an abundance of food in their baskets (During the Great Leap Forward when an abundance of food was a rarity) , raging hate designs against leaders fallen out of grace, and displays of enthusiastic volunteers spreading the red book message.

It’s fascinating and offers a glimpse into an era that’s hard to fathom. Around 1979 the time for these kinds of Posters was over. Mao had died and Deng Xiao Ping started economic reforms. From being everywhere, in every work unit, factory and street, now these memories were to be erased and from what I understand it was strongly advised to get rid of the posters.

The owner of the museum, Mr. Yang Pei Ming, started collecting the posters as a hobby and it has evolved into a collection of more than 5000 prints.
It’s history, he told me, that has to be preserved for future generations. The young people don’t know much about it and the old people don’t like to think back.

The museum has 2 rooms. One with the posters on display, including English explanations. One room where you can browse posters that are for sale. Mr. Yang is there to explain if you have any questions.

I didn’t buy any posters (yet), partly because W. felt it was weird to pay from 200 to 1000 Rmb (100 Euro) for something that once cost a couple of Rmb. As they are getting scarcer though and likely at some point in time the Chinese will have time and interest to think of their own history it might be worth it.

I bought a comic book though from 1957. A propaganda comic book, as a matter fact, that intrigued me because of the cover.

Chinese propaganda cartoon
On the left hand you see a Chinese family showing their joy, health and happiness. The right part is for the poor westerner whose life is hard, oppressed (see the soldier in the back) and full of hunger.

Literally the sign in the hand of the western protester reads.. Peace !, Democracy ! , Bread !

Rather cynical if you think about it but remember that this was the time that children were taught in school that the Western world was a sad bunch of poor people that needed rescue.

It’s well worth a visit so instead of climbing the Oriental Pearl Tower go here.

Propaganda Poster Art Center
Huashan Lu Room BOC 868 /cross street Wukang Lu (Map)
Tel: +86 (139) 0184-1246 or +86 (21) 6211-1845
Open Daily: 10:00-17:00
Entrance fee: 20 Rmb
Website: http://www.shanghaipropagandaart.com/

Chinese Address
上海宣传画艺术中心
中国 上海 华山路868号B幢 B层

A great source of Chinese Propaganda Posters - link

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