One Of China’s First Museums To Reopen With Cai Guo-Qiang Exhibition

Remodeled Art Deco Building, Built In 1932, Reopens With Cai’s “Peasant Da Vincis” Exhibition

The Shanghai Bund Art Museum, formerly the Royal British Asiatic Society, has received a multimillion dollar facelift

The Shanghai Bund Art Museum, formerly the Royal British Asiatic Society, has received a multimillion dollar facelift

Although Beijing gets most of the attention, with most of China’s blue-chip contemporary artists and the country’s top museums, as well as some of the most well-known arts districts (798, Caochangdi) based there, year by year Shanghai is shaking off its reputation as a business — rather than a cultural — center.

Capitalizing on its Jazz Age distinction as the “Paris of the East,” Shanghai’s creative community has made the city a vibrant destination for artists and art lovers alike in recent years. Though Beijing may have the top arts institutions, Shanghai has a more youthful energy (spotlighted on sites like NeoCha and its English-language counterpart NeoCha EDGE) that lends itself well to experimental art and unorthodox venues.

Jing Daily recently wrote about 696 Weihai Street (696 威海路), a former opium depot that has been renovated into a “creative labyrinth” of artists’ studios, and others have profiled buildings like Shanghai’s 1933 in historic Hongkou District, a former abattoir which lay dormant for years before being restored to its former Art Deco glory and transformed into a retail and arts destination.

Now, another 1930s building, located in the British Concession and formerly housing the Royal Asiatic Society, is getting a new lease on life. The only contemporary art museum on the Bund, the Shanghai Bund Art Museum — designed by British architect David Chipperfield — has received a much-needed facelift to the tune of 40 million RMB (US$5.86 million) and will reopen in May with an inaugural exhibition, “Peasant Da Vincis” by top Chinese contemporary artist Cai Guo-Qiang (previously).

From Artron (translation by Jing Daily team):

At the intersection of the Huangpu and Suzhou rivers, a five-story Art Deco building lies hidden in the area surrounding the British Consulate…it doesn’t really catch the eye, but this was once China’s earliest museums — the former site of the British Royal Asiatic Society. Now, after washing away the layers of paint and giving the museum an entirely new look with red and grey paint, it has regained its original 1932 splendor.

As the Bund’s only contemporary art museum, the Shanghai Bund Art Museum will re-open its doors this May with the exhibition “Peasant Da Vincis” by Cai Guo-qiang. [Cai] previously created the opening and closing fireworks ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics.

The interior of the museum is airy and modern

The interior of the museum is airy and modern

Cai Guo-qiang’s artwork explores humanity, the relationship between nature and the universe, and the strength and energy of nature. As the creator, planner and artist behind this inaugural exhibition, Cai Guo-qiang will for the first time focus on the creative power and social topic of individual Chinese farmers.

In the historic five-story [Shanghai Bund Art Museum], which was designed by the famous British architect David Chipperfield, the top three floors have been combined into one. With each floor around 200 square meters, all together the exhibition space is around 900 square meters.

The museum’s tickets will cost 15 yuan for adults (US$2.20), 10 yuan (US$1.46) for students.

Current plans for the Shanghai Bund Art Museum involve exhibitions of contemporary artists, an annual curatorial program, international workshops and cultural seminars, guided tours of historic buildings on the Bund and a series of cross-border cultural events.

We’ll keep a close eye on the preparations for the museum’s opening, and will cover the grand opening as well as Cai’s exhibition this May.

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