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With the exception of Shanghai history specialists and the curious wayward wanderer, even some of the city's local residents do not know about the small building inscribed "T'ou-se-we Museum" (also known as Tushanwan 土山湾 Museum) on its red façade. The remnants of the former Spanish-styled compound of dormitories, classrooms and workshops on the sprawling 5.5 hectares is now but a mere shadow, which once housed, fed and taught many destitute young Chinese boys. While rich in history, the quaint and well-kept museum unfortunately possesses only a few actual artefacts produced during the period when the orphanage was instituted in 1864 until its formal closure in 1962. The craft school, which was distinctly tied to the identity of the orphanage, served a crucial social and artistic need in Shanghai during times of both political turmoil and commercial prosperity. By incorporating the evidence of recent scholarship, Art Historian Julie Chun seeks to re-address and re-evaluate the legacy of Xuhui's understudied history, which continues to remain relatively insular to the world-at-large.

About the speaker

Julie Chun is an independent art historian and lecturer based in Shanghai since 2011. She serves as the Art Convener of the Royal Asiatic Society China in Shanghai and Adjunct Professor of Art History, where she devotes her time to increasing the public's understanding of artistic objects, past and present. She lectures frequently for various foreign associations in Shanghai, including the foreign Consulate General offices. She is a regular contributing writer for Yishu Journal of Contemporary Art and her reviews and criticism have been published in academic and online journals in China and internationally.

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