Artist Cai Guo-Qiang Planning $186 Million Quanzhou Museum Of Contemporary Art

Museum Designed By Famed American Architect, Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry's design for the Quanzhou Museum of Contemporary Art

Frank Gehry’s design for the Quanzhou Museum of Contemporary Art

As China’s museum- and gallery-building spree continues to gain strength, with public and private institutions starting to crop up around the country, buzz is starting to build about one project in particular — the Quanzhou Museum of Contemporary Art (泉州当代艺术馆) in Fujian province. While the name Quanzhou may not ring many bells internationally, one of its most famous hometown boys, the contemporary artist Cai Guo-Qiang, is one of China’s most well-known contemporary artists both at home and abroad. Currently, Cai is busy at work as the lead planner on the project, which has an estimated budget of 1.2-1.3 billion yuan (US$186-202 million).

This week, Artwhile (艺术时间) writes that Cai and his team have signed off on renowned American architect Frank Gehry’s designs for the museum, while making headway on its organizational structure. According to Artwhile, the Quanzhou Museum of Contemporary Art will comprise two sections — the for-profit New Gallery (新建馆) and the non-profit Reconstructed Gallery (改造馆), the latter of which will be housed in converted factories. While Cai Guo-Qiang will handle general planning decisions, business direction is coming mostly from Thomas Krens, CEO of Global Culture Asset Management (GCAM).

Aside from Frank Gehry’s intrepid design for the museum, one of the most interesting aspects of the Quanzhou Museum of Contemporary Art is the way it will be split between non-profit and for-profit halves, functioning essentially as two museums. Set to be built at Stalagmite Park on the north shore of the Lower Jin River, the for-profit “New Gallery” will function as a “first class art gallery and luxury art hotel,” with state-of-the-art security and climate-control systems and ample exhibition space. According to the museum’s planning team, the New Gallery will eventually look to organize cooperative exhibitions with major arts organizations like the Guggenheim Museum, and in addition to its high-end “art hotel,” the New Gallery will include a sprawling art store.

An earlier version of the museum design, presented to reporters this May

An earlier version of the museum design, presented to reporters this May

The non-profit “Reconstructed Gallery,” to be located in a converted flour factory and flax mill, will maintain the original style of the old factories while updating them as contemporary art galleries meeting international standards. In the flour factory half of the Reconstructed Gallery, the museum will invite 30-40 international artists to create works for permanent exhibition, while the flax mill side will serve as a studio for young artists from China and elsewhere to create, share and exhibit their artwork. In addition to the flour factory and flax mill, the Reconstructed Gallery will restore nearby areas to create an “Art Walk” and the “Street of Artists,” exhibiting public artwork and sculpture. As Thomas Krens said during a recent tour, “Every single factory in this historical city contains rich history, and it means a lot for us to preserve this culture and pass it on to the next generation.”

With the New Gallery and Reconstructed Gallery working together, Cai Guo-Qiang remarked this week, the Quanzhou Museum of Contemporary Art looks “to create a vigorous art center, to serve as a supplement to the existing historical and cultural facilities in the city and to reinforce the importance of Quanzhou as an international tourist destination.”

Although Cai Guo-Qiang has been working since 2004 to see his dream of a world-class contemporary art museum in his hometown realized, it appears that it is actually moving in the right direction.



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