With its combination of life-like wax figures, scale models of Shanghai's past architectural landscape, and various multimedia sections, the Shanghai Municiple History Museum is one of the more entertaining museums in Shanghai and successfully brings the atmosphere of old Shanghai back to life. From the Ming and Qing dynasties, through the colonial era and up to the communist take-over in 1949, old style teahouses, Chinese opium joints and Shikumen miniatures give the sense of returning to the time of opium, mandarin gowns and pedicabs.
The waxwork figures are remarkably well made and the large scale models of The Bund and Nanking Road (Nanjing Lu) are especially impressive. Children will also find the funhouse mirrors entertaining, not to mention the green screen room that projects a live video image of visitors against the backdrop of Nanking Road in the 1920s.
Go early if you want to avoid the crowds. While it's not quite on a par with Madame Tussards, some visitors have a tendency to hijack the wax work exhibits for personal photo opportunities. Although it certainly livens the mood, it can also be frustrating when trying to get around the museum.
Although it may appear small, we suggest a couple of hours are needed to fully appreciate the Shanghai History Museum.
The entrance fee of 35RMB is money well spent. Audio guides are available for free. Available languages are English, Chinese and Japanese.