As Art Institutions Race to Expand in China, Beijing’s UCCA Museum Announces Plans to Build a Shanghai Satellite

The Chinese city is in the midst of a museum boom.

A new tower being built in Shanghai will house the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art. Image courtesy of K. Wah Group.
A new tower being built in Shanghai will house the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art. Image courtesy of K. Wah Group.

Shanghai is having a moment.

The UCCA Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing announced yesterday that it will open a new outpost in the Chinese city in 2021. The announcement was made on the heels of the opening of the splashy new Centre Pompidou x West Bund Museum Project, which was inaugurated by French president Emmanuel Macron earlier this week. The digital art collective teamLab has also just opened a new museum in the city.

UCCA’s Shanghai branch will live on the second, third, and fourth floors of a currently being erected in the city’s Jing’an District. Designed by New York-based firm SO-IL, the building will include retail and dining sections alongside the exhibition space.

“I have always been a fan of and, in some ways, a participant in what is happening in Shanghai, from early collaborations [in the city] with artists like MadeIn and Yang Fudong and others, so to finally put down some roots there is really exciting,” UCCA director and CEO Philip Tinari told The Art Newspaper.

Tinari says the move is an “interesting opportunity to start to think about ourselves as an institution working not on a local scale, but on a national scale.” Artnet News reached out to Tinari for comment but did not hear back by press time.

The new museum will focus on Chinese, international, and emerging contemporary art. It will include a project space to showcase the work of young artists and will also mount exhibitions relating to fashion, design, and architecture. A statement from the museum emphasizes UCCA’s reputation as an institution that offers a “comprehensive lifestyle experience.”

The space, which will be nearly 54,000 square feet in size, is being built and operated by the property development group K. Wah International Holdings Ltd., and will be the second branch of the Beijing museum originally founded by the Belgian art collectors Guy and Myriam Ullens. The UCCA is now run by a new group of patrons and shareholders. Its first satellite space, UCCA Dune, opened in the seaside enclave of Aranya in Beidaihe in 2018.

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