Now that China is firmly planted as an economic power, the country is hoping to become a cultural power. On the site of the former China Pavilion from the Shanghai 2010 Expo, a new, 166,000-square-meter China Art Museum looms large. “Speaking of the size, China Art Museum is the largest art museum in China or even Asia,” said Teng Junjie, one of the museum planning officials.
The museum, which features 64,000 square meters of exhibition space (and takes guests approximately two hours to cover, without stopping), is hoping to rival New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Paris’s Musée d’Orsay once it is fully developed. Competition seems to be friendly, however: cultural bastions like the British Museum, Centre Pompidou – and even Musée d’Orsay – are working with the China Art Museum. More than 1,400 artworks from China and abroad will be on display. A retrospective on Andy Warhol and a Vincent Van Gogh exhibition are in the offing.
Another museum, the 12-exhibition-hall Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art, opened at the site of the former Urban Future Pavilion, just 15 minutes from the China Art Museum.
These two new museums are part of Shanghai’s effort to transform the former Expo site into the city’s cultural scene. Officials predict 3 million people will visit the two museums each year.
The museum openings coincided with the 9th Shanghai Biennale 2012, which kicked off October 1.
The Shanghai Biennale provides an international exchange of ideas by bringing together artists, curators, writers, theorists and art supporters from around the world. It aims to expand Shanghai’s importance as the ‘gateway to the west’ through the arts sector. The Biennale has become an important space of dialogue within an increasingly global art market.