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May 20, 2019

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Museums get creative with merchandise

A FOUR-DAY cultural creative products expo, featuring museum merchandise, opened at the Shanghai Exhibition Center yesterday. 

The expo, part of the 12th China Art Festival which opens today, attracts more than 700 museums, art galleries, design companies and cultural institutions from around the country.

Industry leaders such as the Palace Museum in Beijing, National Museum of China, National Library of China, Prince Kung’s Mansion and the Shanghai Museum will bring their latest products, limited editions and top-sellers both online and offline. Popular items include silk bags of rose, clove and sandalwood, sword-like fruit forks, lipsticks designed with the clothing patterns of empresses on the tube, a 3D-printed lamp with the old painting of “Lantern Festival Fun of Emperor Xianzong,” stationery, jewelry, accessories, scarves, T-shirts, mugs and plates.

“To bring the museum back home after people visit is what we’re aiming for,” said Feng Wei, vice general manager of Shanghai Museum Art Company. The museum has more than 60 categories at the expo. 

They include facsimiles of the work of painter Dong Qichang (1555-1636). A major exhibition of the artist’s work was held last December.

Popular items are gold-foil copy versions of “Qiu Xing Ba Jing,” or eight scenes of an autumn trip, earrings and bracelets inspired by Dong’s paintings of waters and mountains, as well as a homespun bag containing a pen, ink, notebook, rice paper and writing brush. There is even rice cake made with the rice from Dong’s hometown, Songjiang District.

“We try to design different cultural creative products for different age groups with different tastes,” Feng said. “Customers today have higher demands and more diverse needs.”

Long gone are the days when museums only had souvenirs of prints of old paintings on a mug, or replicas of antiques.

“Good cultural creative products can help visitors learn the history behind a heritage or an exhibition,” Feng said. “We extract the traditional cultural elements from antiques and design modern, practical products.”

In 2016, the sales volume of Palace Museum’s cultural creative products hit 1 billion yuan (US$144 million). The 94-year-old Palace Museum has led the way with innovation. So far, it has developed almost 12,000 IP creative products.

The National Museum of China has launched almost 5,000 IP products including stationery, furniture, clothes, accessories and electronics.

“What we are doing is to make the old, cold cultural relics live in our modern life,” said museum spokeswoman Chen Xi. 

In 2016, the national museum began a strategic cooperation with Alibaba Group and opened an online store.

Admission to the expo, which is running until Wednesday, is free through online booking.

The expo address is 1000 Yan’an Road M.


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