Shanghai: 6 Private Art Museums in 8 Hours

Art Privee
Sep 29, 2014 2:04AM

What could be nicer than spending the day in Shanghai exploring private art museums with Chinese artist Chen Hangfeng? Chen Hangfeng has had international shows, speaks perfect English and has an “insider’s perspective” on Chinese art — not to mention, a wonderful sense of humor.

I felt compelled to visit Shanghai at this moment because there are many new private art museums that have recently opened and I was eager to see as many as I could. I was also invited to the opening of the new home of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, a beautiful concert hall designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki.

The Rockbund Art Museum

The Rockbund Art Museum was our first stop since it was quite near our hotel, The Peninsula. Ugo Rondinone’s “Breathe Walk Die” is on view until January 2015. It features 40 living clowns in various positions throughout the space. It is the artist’s first ever solo exhibition in China. Of the exhibition, Rondinone said: “Since 2007, all my exhibitions were either black and white or had different shades of brown colors. This is one of the reasons that this time I would like to do a very colorful exhibition, where I combine different color works from the past and present into one unifying exhibition.”

The Long Museum Pudong

Visiting the Long Museum Pudong was quite impressive. The collection is housed in a minimal brick structure, designed by Chinese architect Zhong Song, with fantastic light in the immense first floor gallery.

The husband and wife collectors, Liu Yiqian and Wang Wei, have covered all the art bases. The first floor displays contemporary art, while the upper floors display traditional Chinese paintings. The most exciting exhibition can be found on the second floor, featuring social realism propaganda art from the Mao period It is an important part of their collection and a rare opportunity to see this kind of art.

The Long Museum West Bund

The recently-opened Long Museum West Bund (Liu Yiqian and Wang Wei’s newest branch) is located on the river, where immense warehouses have been taken over by artists and galleries. The government is supporting development in this area to be the new hot art place in Shanghai, called “The West Coast Art Corridor.” We were not able to visit inside because the museum was installing a new show by Vik Muniz, titled “Pictures of Anything,” now on view until November 1st.

Shanghai Himalayas Museum

Visiting the Shanghai Himalayas Museum is like glimpsing an architectural fantasy. It is housed on the top of a multi-use shopping center, which also includes a theatre. This museum was closed due to the installation of a new exhibition, but it was worth a visit just to see the architecture of this vast complex.

The Minsheng Art Museum

The Minsheng Art Museum, funded by the China Minsheng Banking Corporation had a wonderful exhibition: Contemporary Photography in China 2009–2014, on view until October 15. This foundation is situated next to a fun sculpture park.

The Yuz Museum

The highlight of the day was a visit to the newly opened Yuz Museum. The collector and founder, Budi Tek, is a Chinese-Indonesian entrepreneur, art philanthropist and collector, and he has also has a private museum in Jakarta.

The museum’s inaugural show is titled, “Myth/History,” featuring nearly 70 international and Chinese artists and curated by Wu Hung. As we walked into the gorgeous glass building, high above our heads we saw an olive tree by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. Their international program focuses on large installations. Among the many compelling artworks, art star Xu Bing’s “Tobacco Project” uses 660,000 cigarettes to create an enormous “carpet.” Xu Bing’s work can also be seen at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City where his soaring Phoenixes are on display.

The upstairs galleries feature Chinese artists. The quality of art is exceptional. This venue is simply a must see for all the right, exciting reasons.

After an exhausting day of art-viewing, we had lunch at M on the Bund, a popular spot overlooking the Bund (HuangPu District GuangDong Road 20 WaiTan 5 Building 7 Floor, Shanghai, China).

View more private museums and read about many other fabulous art experiences at

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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019