Almost 30 years after the painful and shameful excesses of the Cultural Revolution ended, a museum dedicated to the upheaval has opened in the Chenghai township of Guangdong's Shantou city . But the privately funded museum's early days have already been overshadowed by official disapproval. And many citizens are apathetic about the museum, probably more caught up with their daily concerns than with reflecting upon the catastrophe inflicted on millions of Chinese people from 1966 to 1976. The Cultural Revolution Museum received no publicity in its first four months until late last month when a local newspaper began to carry reports. Then the Southern Metropolis News and The Bund, a Shanghai paper, picked up the story. Two days later, the provincial publicity department not only clamped down on further coverage but also ordered the newspapers to explain their actions. When told about the news blackout, a scholar at Huanan Normal University was stunned. 'It's just an [informal] verbal request, isn't it? It can't be in black and white,' he said. Another scholar, at Sun Yat-sen University, thought the time was right to open such a museum, saying people were mature enough to face up to what happened. Even so, when told the museum had opened, he immediately expressed fears it would be closed down. The museum was still open early last week, despite the government's pressure. The man who initiated the official response is Shantou's former executive vice-mayor Peng Qian , who himself endured 300 'struggle sessions' during the Cultural Revolution. He turned down a meeting with a Sunday Morning Post reporter. The Huanan Normal University scholar said it was normal for some cadres to oppose the reopening of old wounds - in particular those who had risen to power during the Cultural Revolution. But 'there is no big threat to the party to admit its mistakes', he said. 'The party has grown by making mistakes and correcting them. The Cultural Revolution is just one in a series of mistakes.' A senior journalist was less charitable. 'We keep asking the Japanese to do some soul-searching, when we ourselves cannot face up to our own history. 'More people have died as a result of various campaigns than were killed by the Japanese in Nanjing ,' he said. Scholars said the museum was significant because it was set up privately for ordinary people to reflect on the Cultural Revolution. It did not apportion blame to the party or to the Gang of Four, the clique arrested and blamed for what took place. 'Until now, the introspection has been conducted on a political level - with the shouting of slogans - but that is not enough,' the Huanan Normal University professor said. 'There is a need for a monument to be built or a display of substantive materials.' But soul-searching is the last thing on the minds of villagers living at the foot of Ta Shan, where the museum is located. That is despite having lost dozens of their kin to the bullets of the People's Liberation Army during the revolution - called in by a neighbouring village that belonged to a different political faction. One villager, who was nine in 1968, remembers neighbouring villagers overran his village, torched homes and blew up clan houses and granaries. 'I don't talk about this unless I am asked, like now,' he said, without emotion. 'I have not told my children about what happened. Let bygones be bygones.' Chenghai suffered heavy casualties during the Cultural Revolution, with 400 dead and 4,500 injured. Despite the government's concerns, the museum is far from provocative. Its dominating feature is 623 black stone plaques - etched with words and pictures taken from a book titled Cultural Revolution Museum. The only material reminders of what has been described as one of the worst catastrophes in Chinese history are a few small statues of the late chairman Mao Zedong and some books. Nowhere to be seen are the era's posters covered with huge characters, the Red Guard memorabilia or tall dunce hats that were used in public denunciations - all of which would have probably agitated officials. Younger scholars are hoping Chenghai will spawn similar efforts all over the country, so people can come to terms and not forget their past. 'We have never properly re-examined the past because ... for decades since the opium war, we have seen ourselves as the victims,' the Sun Yat-sen University professor said.