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Travel Lessons-Art Deco in Shanghai

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Vagabond Kids: Travel Lessons-Art Deco in Shanghai

Friday, March 19, 2010

Travel Lessons-Art Deco in Shanghai

I hope this blog will become is a resource for ways to enhance the travel that you do with kids. I am a life long believer in education, from traditional and unconventional sources. For me, part of the joy of taking my kids with me when I travel is to teach them about the places we visit.

Malacca was really the first time we were able to tell the kids the stories of the place, teach them a bit about the History of the area and show them, by way of stories and museum exhibits how Malacca was such an important hub historically in the region.

When ever we travel I try to give the kids a bit of history of the place first and try to through in some information to make the place more real. I figure, I may as well share what I learn with you!

First, a disclaimer, I LOVE Art Deco. Deco and craftsman style architecture are hands down in a dead heat for my love. And, since I have the opportunity to see Deco when I travel around the region and not much Craftsman, Deco has sort of taken the lead in my infatuation.

When ever I start research I usually end up with Wiki. There are often mistakes in Wiki, but they are good starting points for more information. The Art Deco Wiki.

Art Deco was a design style that was primarily done between the late 1920's through the end of the 30's. Some of my favorite Deco buildings are in Shanghai, while Singapore does have a few great pockets, Shanghai, for me, is the Asian version of Miami Beach, without all of the color of course. The Art Deco style can be found in multiple buidings, up and down the Bund, the French concession and Nanjing Road.

I can almost imagine, Shanghai in the roaring twenties and thirties as the quintessential time for the city. The city alive with excitement, buildings going up. The concessions filled with French, British, American and other expats trying to take advantage of the great dream of China. (As a side, not much has changed when I think of Shanghai in 2010). I haven't been back in a while, but one of my goals is to find as many of the Art Deco buildings that survive in China (frankly around the region) and try to get my copy of the image. Others have done so and one of my favories is the following blog and flickr page.

So, what can you teach your kids about Art Deco in Shanghai? Well, there is the Design elements, there is the history of Shanghai in the 20s as a world wide trade center, the history of the early Republic of China (and of course the founding of the PRC) and the price of progress when it comes to historical preservation.

Would you teach your kids about Art Deco in China? Would you focus on the design or use it as a jumping off point for other History?

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