We’ve seen the signs off of Yan’an for years, but yesterday Shanghaiist decided to take one for the team and visit a real dinosaur of a museum: The Shanghai Natural History Museum. As far as we can tell, we have a new ranking contender for saddest museum in Shanghai (and we’ve been to the Bund ‘Museum’ under the Monument to the People’s Heroes.) The paint was crumbling, the stuffed animals were near the point of disintegration, and most of displays look like they were taken straight out of a 1950s science-fiction novel. We didn’t get too close to the dinosaurs out of fear that they might collapse at any moment. That being said, there’s something about this museum, schadenfreude perhaps, that made the whole 5 RMB visit worth it.
The section on human evolution and primitive civilizations, for example, was wildly offensive in a quaint, no-way-would-anyone-actually-put-this-in-a-museum kind of way. Part I of the exhibit, we kid you not, actually has human fetuses (aged 1-6 months) in display jars. We suspect that this would fly back home in America, but it’s certainly unique. Part III, a section on human races, is just asking for trouble. We won’t ruin the surprise, but let’s just say they paint a rather backwards picture of certain darker-skinned groups of people. In all fairness, however, the museum does acknowledge and apologize for any errors which may be the result of ‘time, ability, and financial capacity’ in one of the only signs in the museum that they have bothered to translate.
The rest of the museum, with the exception of two mummies, is pretty run-of-the-mill posed stuffed animals and creepy-crawlies in jars. Walking around alone on the hall of invertebrates does provide a slight adrenaline rush, if only because it feels like you’re on the set of a horror film.
Shanghai Natural History Museum
260 Yan’an Dong Lu near Henan Lu （延安东路260近河南路）