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8 strangest Shanghai museums I

Shanghai hosts all the museums you’d expect in a world-class city: countless art spaces, history exhibitions and urban planning centers. But, if you explore a little more, you’ll find that the city has its share of odder exhibition halls. You can pick up any one of them for your affordable China travel packages.

From a scrappy chopstick center to an elegant homage to music boxes, the city brims with unexpected entertainments. Here are our picks of the city’s most unusual museums.

Shanghai Typewriter Museum

Admission: Free

Why it's odd but awesome: When small children enter this tiny typewriter museum, they’re often perplexed by the 50 machines on display.

“I tell them, this is the computer’s grandfather,” says curator Han Tao Feng. Foreigners are often touched to find antique typewriters from their home countries, she adds.

The 300 typewriters were collected by Suzhou-born Lu Hanbin, an international merchant who now lives in the Czech Republic.

Don't leave without seeing: The oldest typewriter: a redwood beauty from 1809.

Shanghai Typewriter Museum, 248 Wuxing Lu, near Jianguo Lu, +86 21 6466 4556, hours: daily, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Shanghai Animation and Comics Museum

Admission: RMB 30 (adults)

Why it's odd but awesome: This shiny, futuristic homage to animation opened in 2010.

The first floor is an entrancing guide to animation’s history, from Chinese shadow puppets to Mickey Mouse. It's interspersed with life-size figurines, short film clips and a hall of movie posters. The second-floor is kid-friendly and commercial -- you can even dub your voice into popular cartoon flicks.

Don't leave without seeing: The top floor is a movie theater: separate tickets required.

Shanghai Animation and Comics Museum, 69 Zhangjiang Lu, a cab ride from Jinke station on Metro Line 2 , +86 5895 7998, hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Shanghai Antique Music Box Gallery

Admission: RMB 50 (adults), half price every first and third Saturday of the month

Why it's odd but awesome: The personal collection of a Japanese merchant, this museum is filled with mostly European music boxes.

“I wanted to come because it’s romantic and fun,” says Cherry Ding, a Shanghai high school student.

The most interesting music boxes are the ones with doll figurines that spring to life in time with the music. One features a young boy who tries to steal some jam, only to see the jar turn into his grandmother’s scolding face. Another creepier one displays a woman stewing a monkey’s head.

Don't leave without seeing: The oldest music box in the world: a tiny golden contraption dating from 1796.

Shanghai Antique Music Box Gallery, 425 Dingxiang Lu, Shanghai Oriental Arts Center which should be considered for your best tours of China, near Yingchun Lu, Metro Line 2 Science and Technology Museum Station +86 21 6854 7647, hours: daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Chopsticks Museum

Admission: Free

Why it's odd but awesome: This tiny, cold room, shared with a jewelry saleswoman, is perhaps the smallest museum in Shanghai.

Lan Xiang, 81, lives upstairs and displays his collections of chopsticks in a first-floor cabinet.

As a young man, Xiang, a writer, traveled throughout Asia in search of chopsticks. If you speak Putonghua, he’ll tell you the story of his quest to collect more than 2,000 pairs including a gilded silver set from the Tang Dynasty.

There aren’t many on display though: “My best ones are in the bank,” Xiang says. But, his story alone is worth a visit.

Don't leave without seeing: Xiang's book “Chinese Chopsticks,” which is avalable in Chinese, English and French.

Chopsticks Museum, 191 Duolun Lu, near Sichuan Lu, Metro Line 3 Dongbaoxing Lu Staion +86 21 5671 7528, hours: daily, call ahead for appointment

Shanghai Calligraphy Museum

Admission: Free

Why it's odd but awesome: This one-room museum begins with the history of ink-making, and tells the story of its migration to Shanghai. Glass exhibits showcase various ink pads and brushes while wall scrolls illustrate the beauty of the calligraphy.

“What I loved was just the fact that they had such a museum in the first place,” says Shahana Chattaraj, who was visiting Shanghai from New York. “It shows such a reverence for writing, and the written script as an art form.”

Don't leave without seeing: English recordings next to the exhibits tell the stories behind the artifacts, such as juicy tales of competition among ink makers.

Shanghai Calligraphy Museum, 2/F, 429 Fuzhou Lu, near Fujian Zhong Lu, +86 21 6328 1558, hours: daily 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

If you want to know more, you can contact with China tour agents.

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