Probably the best place that anyone could go to really learn about this topic is the Chinese Sex Culture Museum which I visited when I was in Shanghai in 2003.
Looking up the museum on Google, I am surprised to see that it is being forced out of Shanghai, for the city of Tongli in neighboring Jiangxu province. According to this China Daily article, 70% of the museum’s visitors were foreigners, I would assume mostly people who found it through the ubiquitous Lonely Planet guide, as I had.
The museum’s curator and owner Mr Liu Dalin was interviewed about the move by MSNBC:
after years of struggling to keep his private museum afloat, Liu is packing up his collection of 3,700 erotic toys, icons and other sex paraphernalia and moving to the countryside.
Liu, a retired Shanghai University professor and noted sociologist, says he was done in by a lack of official support.
“Over the past 15 years we have had more than 100,000 visitors. None of them said it was bad. Not one. They all felt it was very respectful, and to be admired,” Liu said.
“But some bureaucrats fear that the topic of sex is dangerous,” he said in an interview at his museum, in a nondescript office building far from popular tourism and shopping routes.
I would agree. It was actually a very good museum, and a serious exploration of sex in ancient Chinese culture. Certainly the topic can turn into a bit of a freakshow, with large collections of items like prehistoric stone dildos, special beds used by Ming era prostitutes, erotic scroll paintings from centuries ago, foot-binding tools, and so on, but it was all presented in historical context, not as pornography.
This People’s Daily report includes some more information on the museum’s move. Luckily, it seems that where the Shanghai city government forced him to open in a very out of the way area and censored the museum’s advertising, his new location will be very good for the museum.
“I’ve wasted too much energy and time on the rental fees.” His sex museum will move to the canal town’s Lize Girl’s School, about 80 kilometers from Shanghai, and the Tongli government will cover the renovation fee of 2 million yuan. Admission will be 10 yuan to 15 yuan, about half of the current price, according to Liu. The profits will be shared by the professor and the Tongli government. The sex museum, much like conceiving a child, is largely due to fate.
Here is the front gate of the museum’s former location in Shanghai. They asked not to take photos inside and I didn’t buy any merchandise in the gift shop (yes, they had some old stone dildos for sale-, probably not recommended for use) so I can’t show what the displays were like.