ITTF Museum & China Table Tennis Museum opened in Shanghai

By Huang Lanlan Source:Global Times Published: 2018/4/3 18:28:39

Ping-pong friendship

A bright exhibition hall, various ping-pong balls and rackets from different eras, fancy virtual reality (VR) ping-pong playing systems... The recently constructed International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Museum & China Table Tennis Museum opened to the public on March 31, providing enthusiasts with a new destination to experience the charm of table tennis - the most popular ball game in China.

Located near the World Expo Museum in Huangpu district, the four-story, 5,000-square-meter table tennis museum has two main areas: the ITTF Museum relocated from Switzerland, and China's first-ever table tennis museum.

It currently has 11,000 exhibits from home and abroad, of which some 8,000 came from the former ITTF Museum in Lausanne. The remaining 3,000 belong to the brand-new China Table Tennis Museum, collected from the country's ping-pong champions and citizen aficionados.

The museum is China's first professional international level sports museum. "It is nonprofit, opening to the public for free," introduced Chen Peijie, president of the Shanghai University of Sport (SUS), which manages the museum project. "It will serve not only as an exhibition venue but also a world-class research base for ping-pong techniques, and a place for youth to practice."

Ping-pong highlights

At the museum, visitors can get a close look at many precious exhibits, including the world's first pair of ping-pong rackets, which do not look like today's rackets. There is also the world's first ping-pong table, net and ball on display, telling the history of this Britain-originated sport.

Many items were collected by American Chuck Hoey, the former curator of the ITTF Museum. About 40 years ago, Hoey received a letter from a Swedish friend with a table tennis postage stamp celebrating the 1967 World Championships in Stockholm.

"Then I asked myself a very expensive question: I wonder if there are more table tennis stamps?" he recalled. "And I quickly learned there were many other stamps showing table tennis, so I began to collect them."

Later, Hoey met other collectors who introduced him to early original ping-pong equipment such as rackets, nets and balls. "For many years after that, I accumulated a large collection that continued to grow each year."

Hoey shared the story behind one of his favorite collections. "It was a pair of wooden rackets from the year 1902 with the original oil painting, showing a man on one and a woman on the other, both holding their rackets," he told the Global Times. It took Hoey 10 years to persuade the original collector of these rackets to sell them.

At the ITTF Hall of Fame hang portraits and brief introductions of outstanding ping-pong players and contributors. "Candidates for the Hall of Fame must have won at least five gold medals in World Championships or the Olympic Games," said the museum's current curator Shi Zhihao, a renowned former ping-pong athlete and coach. To date, 63 players and three officials have been enshrined at the hall.

Apart from the exhibition, the museum also provides advanced facilities to enrich visitors' experience. "We have virtual reality (VR), multimedia interaction and a 3D theater," introduced Ping Jie, vice president of SUS.

One of the most popular facilities is a smart ping-pong playing machine that can simulate a human's playing style. "Through it you can 'play' with world-famous players such as Zhang Jike, Jan-Ove Waldne and Ai Fukuhara," Ping said. "We have invited many ping-pong lovers to test the machine, and we found that kids like it very much."

5,000 visits

The original ITTF museum opened in Lausanne in 2005. A year before that, ITTF contacted Hoey asking whether he would like to build a museum and showcase his ping-pong collection to the public.

Hoey described this as a miracle. "Soon I was on a plane to Switzerland, to begin the official ITTF Museum," he recalled excitedly. In an old chateau near Lausanne, Hoey was giving a 10-room venue to build the museum.

Being called China's national sport, table tennis is enjoyed by Chinese of all ages. But it is less prevalent in the West. During the former ITTF museum's 10-year operation from 2005 to 2014, only 5,000 people had ever visited in total.

"Then another miracle happened: Shanghai government officials visited the museum," Hoey said. "Impressed by the collection, they suggested we transfer the museum to Shanghai. ITTF later made the decision after a few discussions and arrangements."

Hoey believes that Shanghai is an ideal new home for the museum. He once organized a temporary exhibition during the 2005 World Table Tennis Championships in Shanghai, where he was impressed by local people's enthusiasm for ping pong.

"I'm very happy about the move to China, a country where the sport is loved, and where there is a great, long tradition of success of Chinese athletes," he said. "My expectations about the future are very strong."

The museum's current curator, Shi, has great expectations as well. "Totally, 5,000 people visited the former ITTF museum during its 10 years of operation," he said. "Now I have the confidence to say that the relocated museum in Shanghai will get 5,000 visits within one week - maybe even within one day."

Opening hours: 9 am to 5 pm (closed on Mondays)

Address: 796 Jumen Road

Admission: free (passport or identity card needed)

Contact 6550-6650 for more details

A postcard mailed from Tianjin to Brussels in 1902 that tells the early development of table tennis in China Photo: Courtesy of Shanghai University of Sport


A pair of wooden rackets with original oil paintings Photo: Courtesy of Shanghai University of Sport


Foster Set, the first ping-pong table, net, rackets and balls made around 1890 in the UK Photo: Courtesy of Shanghai University of Sport


The museum building Photo: Courtesy of Shanghai University of Sport



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