Local sex museum fights for survival

The curator of Shanghai's sex museum is hoping for financial help from the local government to keep his nomadic treasury alive.

Liu Dalin, the man responsible for opening China's only sex culture museum in 1995 and keeping it afloat over a tumultuous history that has seen it change location three times, says more visitors than ever are viewing his collection, but the crowds still aren't big enough to make the project profitable.

Just breaking even would be a massive step up for the man who has spent a huge portion of his personal wealth to display various pictures and carvings of couples engaged in various sexual positions.

"I am just trying to transform the Western stereotype of Chinese as people who are illiterate about sex," said Liu, who has collected more than 1,700 artifacts pertaining to sex in China.

Liu's cathedral of copulation opened its doors in suburban Qingpu District in 1995, a location it called home for four years despite a lack of visitors.

Hoping to attract larger crowds, the elderly curator moved his exhibit to the bustling pedestrian-only section of Nanjing Road.

The new site should have been perfect, with plenty of foot traffic in the area. But local officials wouldn't let Liu put up a sign for his museum due to concerns over use of the word sex.

No sign meant no visitors, forcing Liu to once again find a new home for his collection.

The latest move was a good one. More than 12,000 people visited the museum's new home on the corner of Wuding Road and Wuning Road S. in Jing'an District last month, Liu said. That's a significant increase over the 700 visitors a month the exhibit averaged at its previous location.

"Though I'm happy we have more and more visitors dropping into the museum at its new location, we are far from making a profit," said Liu. The curator still expects to spend 40,000yuan (US$4,819) every month to supplement the museum's budget.

Liu, who built a small fortune selling a personal collection of antiques and authoring over 70 books on the history of sex in China, has spent well over 1 million yuan to date on his pet project.

All that money has done nothing to change local attitudes that sex is not something to be discussed in public.

While many visitors wandered around the museum's displays yesterday, most refused to talk to Shanghai Daily. The few who would talk didn't want their names used.

"The exhibition is nothing shabby as some people may imagine and it is not tough for me to accept," said one middle-aged salesman.

While visitors are impressed with the quality of Liu's collection, he shouldn't expect too much financial help from the government, said Zhou Lizhong, deputy director of the museum department of the city's Commission of Relics Management.

"The commission is only supposed to finance the city's 64 official museums, so we can't help the other 100 or so small museums such as Liu's, they unfortunately have to rely on themselves," Zhou said.

Open daily: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Tel: 6230-1243

Web: www.7cv.com

Admission: 30 yuan

(Eastday.com.cn 09/07/2001)