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China Art Museum and Shanghai Contemporary Art Museum
Sep 5, 2012
The Shanghai Municipal Government Information Office held a press conference on August 30 about the China Art Museum and Shanghai Contemporary Art Museum.
Teng Junjie, art director of Shanghai Municipal Culture, Radio, Film and Television Administration
Shi Dawei, deputy inspector of Shanghai Municipal Culture, Radio, Film and Television Administration, director of the Pre-opening Office of China Art Museum, and dean of Shanghai Academy of Chinese Painting
Xi Qunfeng, deputy director of the Office for Post-Expo Development of the Site and vice president of Shanghai Expo Development Group
People’s Daily: Why do you name China Pavilion the China Art Museum after its renovation? How can a local art museum use the word China in its name?
Shi Dawei: We name it China Art Museum to extend the post-Expo influence of the China Pavilion and the name is appropriate because Shanghai is the cradle of modern art in China. The museum will showcase the masterpieces of modern art in China and organize domestic and international exchanges. This name has been approved by the art circles in China and abroad.
Even though we are a city-level museum, we will focus on “China” when planning exhibitions and operating the facility. The inaugural show, for example, is collaboration with the Chinese Artists Association. It contains Chinese paintings, oil paintings, sculptures and other art forms. It is a parade of the best in Chinese modern art. Another exhibition also highlights the theme of “China” and illustrates Shanghai as the birthplace of modern art in China. We want to become a leading museum in China, a first-class museum in Asia and an internationally-renowned museum in both artwork collection and public education.
Dragon TV: China Art Museum has about 64,000 square meters of exhibition space. What is its ranking in terms of show space? How are you going to find exhibits to fill such enormous space and maintain the artistic quality of the exhibits at the same time?
Teng Junjie: The 64,000 square meters of show space is the largest for an art museum both in China and in Asia. It affords the art circles in Shanghai and in China great space for exhibitions and activities.
We will get exhibits mainly through two channels. Shanghai is the birthplace of modern art in China and the city boasts a rich collection of art treasures. Shanghai Art Museum enjoys good relationship with museums around China and the world. We have visited some cities in Asia and Europe and we are busy planning exhibitions for the next three years. Our superb venue and facilities have aroused great interest among the top art museums in the world.
Shanghai and China have many talented artists. China Art Museum and Shanghai Contemporary Art Museum will pursue academic heights, expand their horizons and work hard to improve viewers’ satisfaction.
Eastday.com: The China Pavilion lives in the memory of many Expo 2010 visitors. How are you going to balance the needs for preserving the pavilion’s Expo elements and ensuring the museum’s functions while renovating the pavilion?
Teng Junjie: Turning the China Pavilion into an art museum is a way to perpetuate the glory of the World Expo, which is a grand show of the world’s civilizations and scientific achievements that leaves an artistic legacy in the host city. The Eiffel Tower, for example, is a legacy of the Paris Expo in 1889. It has been two years since Expo 2010 was held in the city. The landmark China Pavilion gives Shanghai and the entire nation tremendous space and possibility for cultural and art development. We will make professional modifications to transform the venue into an art museum. The modifications are limited to the interiors and will not change the exterior design of the China Pavilion so that it retains the original look. Other features will also be retained such as the large animated rendition of the ancient scroll painting, “Qingming Festival along the River” and a 60-meter-long balcony.
People will feel the China Pavilion is still there. The Expo Boulevard, the Expo Cultural Center and the Expo Center remain intact despite the post-Expo development of other venues and the site.
Shanghai People’s Radio Station: Since the conversion project will take about 10 months, how will the Shanghai Expo Development Group guarantee the renovation quality in such a short period?
Xi Qunfeng: Since the conversion project started on December 26, 2011, municipal officials have toured the site many times and held on-site meetings to coordinate the work of all the involved parties. The Shanghai Expo Development Group worked hard to ensure the renovation is on schedule while meeting safety and quality standards.
China Art Museum will occupy the premises of the former China Pavilion and a cluster of provincial pavilions around it. Total building space is 166,800 square meters and exhibition space is 64,000 square meters. Demolition work was completed at the end of March and reconstruction lasted from early April to the end of June. Equipment testing was finished in June. We have handed over the pavilion to the museum operator for decoration and exhibit installation. The former venue of provincial pavilions in the north zone and the basement level 2 warehouse will be handed to the museum soon after a quality appraisal.
Shanghai Contemporary Art Museum is converted from the former Future Pavilion in the Urban Best Practices Area. It has a built-up space of 41,000 square meters, including 15,000 square meters of show space. The museum will have 12 exhibition halls. Construction is nearing completion and it will be handed over to the museum’s operator soon.
Art China Magazine: Since Shanghai Contemporary Art Museum is China’s first public contemporary art museum, does it mean improvement of official acknowledgement and acceptance of contemporary art? The opening exhibition of this museum will theme “the return of a powerhouse” and could you explain the meaning of the theme?
Shanghai Contemporary Art Museum is the first such museum on the mainland. But public museums have hosted modern art shows for years. Shanghai Art Museum has held the Shanghai Biennial for 16 years. The Expo venues offered a great opportunity for the establishment of China Art Museum to promote modern art and enrich people’s cultural life. Our purpose for the new museum is to give a boost to the development of modern art in China.
The museum has been dubbed “the return of a powerhouse” as it sits opposite from the former power plant in Nanshi District and will generate public interest in modern art after the Shanghai Biennale and the Shanghai Contemporary Art Museum move into the new facility. It is a vivid description about the role of the new museum.
“The return of a powerhouse” does not mean the revival of a deserted factory. It is a reflection on the design of the city’s ecological system. It prompts us to think about issues like waste recycling, social harmony and sustainable development.
China Daily: This is the first non-profit public museum for contemporary art. Will it buy outstanding pieces exhibited at the Shanghai Biennale as its permanent collections? How are you going to acquire them and what are your standards?
Shi Dawei: The post-modern art movement has been around for more than 30 years. The collection of post-modern art pieces at the Shanghai Contemporary Art Museum is zero. We will definitely build our collection in the coming three years. We have an artistic committee that selects pieces for permanent collection and we will get them through government purchases or donations.