Exhibition venues

Beijing's most popular art districts include:

798 Art Factory District (Dashanzi)
This is the center of Beijing's art-for-tourism activity.  Most famous for its striking conversion of 1950's built Sino-East German vast factory space to today's hub of galleries, coffee shops, book stores, restaurants, gift shops, furniture knock off design shops, and related retail outlets, this vast area of interlocking public and still working factory space is China's most successful government-supports-the-arts initiative to-date. The vast 798 Art Factory area started as artist studio squat spaces and quickly grew to today's web of private museums, galleries and coffee shops. When private business grew, the local Cao Changdi district government quickly moved in to co-opt the grass roots movement , officially renaming the area "798 Art Factory District", and sadly bureaucratizing what was briefly a thriving, underground art scene, into the touristic art-retail outlet of today. 

In addition to 798's "anchor tentant" , the vast Ullens Center of Contemporary Art (UCCA), started by the Belgium Baron and Baroness Guy and Miriam Ullens, a few good galleries remain including PACE Gallery from New York, Galeria Continua from Italy, Tang Gallery from Beijing and Thailand, Iberia, a Sino-Spanish art space, Beijing Commune, Beijing Tokyo Art Projects, Long March Art Space and a few others.  The rest are largely touristic specializing in souvenir art and Mao memorabilia.

Cao Changdi Village
The Caochangdi area, just off Beijing's 5th Ring Road, where my gallery Pékin Fine Arts is based , is rapidly becoming the second most visited art district in Beijing, with many Beijing contemporary art galleries relocating here from 798 and the city centre. As 798 is located close by, both areas can be visited in one trip. Some compare Cao Changdi to New York's Chelsea area, a district for specialized art lovers; with 798 more akin to the SOHO downtown area of NYC.

Many galleries in Cao Changdi were designed by Ai Weiwei, a well known artist-architect who co-designed the "Bird's Nest" Olympic Stadium along with Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron.  Cao Changdi is adjacent to the new National Film Museum, houses many private artist studios, architecture offices, animation, film fashion and dance studios.  Galleries in Cao Changdi include Beijing Art Now Gallery (BANG), Boers-Li Gallery, the Taikang Art Space, Chambers Fine Art, Galerie Urs Meile, Shanghart, White Space, Mizuma Art Gallery, EGG Gallery, Pekin Fine Arts and others.

Liquor Factory (Jiu Chang) Area
Situated in an old liquor making factory on the outskirts of the Wan Jing suburban area of Beijing, and a short car ride from Dashanzi and Cao Changdi art areas, this area houses galleries, and art studios including the enormous Beijing gallery operations of Seoul and New York-based ARARIO Gallery.

Songzhuang Village
30 kilimeters east of Beijing, close to the Hebei province border, local Chinese galleries and art museums supported by the Songzhuang village government are rapidly growing in number with little foreign participation. Songzhuang is said to house several hundred contemporary Chinese artists living in villages around Songzhuang, each hoping to break onto the national and international stage. The Songzhuang Art Museum managed by well-known Chinese art critic and curator Li Xianting is situated in Songzhuang. And the vast private art collection of local collector Guan Yi, mainly devoted to installation pieces by the mavericks of Chinese contemporary art scene, is periodically open to the public in Songzhuang. More private museums, artist studios and galleries are expected to open, in this area popular among artists moving to Beijing from other provinces.

Other newly formed art districts continue to develop including the "Yi Hao Di" area in Shunyi, and art areas in Bei Gao, Hei Qiao, Huan Tie, and Dongba. Galleries will also open in 2010 in the San Litun Village complex and JianWai SOHO and other high- end retail spaces in the center of Beijing.

Important Beijing art museums include the National Gallery of Art, the China Millennium Monument Museum, the Forbidden City Museum, National History Museum at Tiananmen Square, the Capital Museum, and the CAFA Museum at the Central Academy of Fine Arts. In addition to those government run museums, private museums continue to expand rapidly, with the most important and active being the Today Art Museum near to JianWai SOHO, and the UCCA at 798.

View listings on map
  • Taikang Space
    Red No.1-B2, Caochangdi, Cuigezhuang, Chaoyang District, Beijing, 100015, China

    Taikang Top Space is a non-profit organization founded in 2001 by Taikang Life Insurance Co. Ltd. It is also the first art organization funded by a commercial enterprise in China.

  • OPEN10
    Open Realization Contemporary Art Center, Jiu Xian Qiao Road Chaoyang District, Beijing, China 100015
    0086 10 59789152
    0086 10 59789151

    OPEN is the largest and longest-running non-governmental international Performance Art Festival in China. Founded in 2000 to establish a free international performance art platform in the spirit of openness, pluralism, equality, and experimentation, it is now celebrating its tenth anniversary. The site of OPEN 10, Dashanzi 798* is the largest international art zone in Beijing with more than 350 galleries and another 150 under construction.

  • ArtSlant

    International site and networks with up-to-date exhibition listings.

  • Asian Art Archive

    AAA Directory is a regularly updated, searchable listing of over 600 contemporary Asian art spaces, resources and websites from around the world. Their Research centre offers Research Grants every two years and a residency programme.

  • Tang Contemporary Art
    Gate No.2, 798 factory, Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang Dst.Beijing,
    0086 10 59789610
    0086 10 59789379

    The aim of the centre is to focus on the promotion & development of Chinese & foreign contemporary art. The centre functions not only as an art gallery, but it is also an institution specialized in curating art exhibition; finding & promoting new generation artist; marketing art works; consulting art administration business and doing research of art theories.

This article is from the Artlaw Archive of Henry Lydiate's columns published in Art Monthly since 1976, and may contain out of date material.
The article is for information only, and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.
Readers should consult a solicitor for legal advice on specific matters. Artists can get free online legal information from Artquest.