​University of Sanya Camera Museum: A history of light and shadow

By Ding Xin / hicn.cn / Updated: 22:30,23-November-2021

If you want to explore the history of the camera, the Camera Museum at the University of Sanya is a great place to go. In 2016, Mr. Shen Ge, a collector of antique cameras in Guangdong Province, donated more than 500 antique cameras from his lifelong collection to the University of Sanya so that more people can enjoy and learn from the collection.

Visiting the Camera Museum.

The Camera Museum is hidden in the school library. The museum curator Wang Weicong explained that the over 500 cameras in the museum are his grandfather Shen Ge's lifelong collection. As Shen Ge was getting on in years, they decided to donate the cameras to the university, where the antiques have found a "good home". After taking over the responsibility of caring for the collection from his grandfather, Wang Weicong decided to move to Sanya to provide better care for these antique cameras that had framed countless precious and historic moments.

Soviet-made stereo camera

There are many different types of cameras in the collection

The interior of the Camera Museum is dimly lit, with a large variety of different cameras sleeping in their glass cases, dreaming of their glory years.

The Latvian-born Riga-based camera designer Walter Zapp probably never imagined that his miniature camera would be featured in the classic James Bond film series "On Her Majesty's Secret Service". The footage of George Lazenby’s James Bond holding up a Minox A/IIIs left a deep impression on the audience. This camera, so small that it can be hidden in the palm, is also known as the hidden spy camera.

A Minox A/IIIs camera

A Japanese point-and-shoot camera

Centuries of light and shadow

The Camera Museum also has a collection of Chinese cameras. The Valing camera is an early domestic camera in Shen Ge's collection that was produced in the 1940s and 1950s. There were at least three models of this brand of camera, and Shen Ge has two of them in his collection.

The museum is open to the public at no charge, and when visitors come to the museum, Wang Weicong is always excited to tell them all about the collection. From the era to the genre, from the material to the process, he knows every detail about every camera in the museum.

"This collection was my grandfather’s life work, and he used to clean the dust off and store them carefully, so these cameras are well preserved and most of them can still take pictures," said Wang Weicong. With the support of the university, the museum’s website (http://library.sanyau.edu.cn/node/541.jspx) is being updated regularly. Wang has published text and video materials on the website, hoping to help more people understand the history and culture of these precious antique cameras.

A Valing camera, the treasure of the museum

A Valing camera

The Valing camera was the first generation industrialized camera made in China. Its body was made of phenolic plastics, with a simple internal structure and 127mm film. This Valing camera uses a simple single-blade focal-plane shutter, which can still be used after more than half a century.

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