In a tiny jewelry store in the middle of Shanghai you’ll find what is probably the world’s smallest museum. Lan Xiang, who lives upstairs, displays his collection of chopsticks in one of the store’s cabinets. If you happen to speak the Mandarin dialect of Putonghua, then you’re in luck. Xiang will share his life story of traveling throughout Asia for the last 25 years on a quest to collect more than 2,000 pairs of chopsticks, including a gilded silver set from the Tang Dynasty. And like all museums, there’s a book. Of course.
But Xiang’s chopsticks aren’t that unusual. Believe it or not, Shanghai has 120 recognized private collections, from opera costumes and lottery tickets to antique shoes and teapots. Some even have licenses from the Shanghai Cultural Relics Bureau, which puts them in the same league as the “big” museums. Hmmm…I wonder if the U.S. government will recognize my growing collection of used Lady Speed Sticks® as a museum?