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.

Museums
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
    address
    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.

  • 25000 Cultural Transmission Centre / Long March Space
    address
    Venue address: 4 Jiu Xiangqiao Lu, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100015, Peoples Republic of China
    address
    Postal Address: PO Box No 554, Beijing 100015, Peoples Republic of China
    contact
    Office Director: Lu Wen
    telephone
    00 86 10 6438 7107
    fax
    00 86 10 6438 7107

  • Art Scene China
    address
    #8, Lane 37 Fuxing West Road, Shanghai 200031 China
    contact
    Director: Sami Wafa
    telephone
    00 86 21 6437 0631
    fax
    00 86 21 6433 8403

    Art Scene China specialises is contemporary art by well-established and emerging artists from throughout China. The gallery is in a 1930's French Concession villa within the central consulate district, providing an authentic Shanghai experience.

  • Art Scene WAREHOUSE
    address
    2/F, Building #4, 50 Moganshan Road, Shanghai 200060 China
    contact
    Director: Sami Wafa
    telephone
    00 86 21 6277 2499
    fax
    00 86 21 6433 8403

    Art Scene WAREHOUSE is the largest gallery in Shanghai, filled with avant-garde artworks by some of the most exciting artists from throughout China. The 1,800 square metres chic, minimalist space is located in the Suzhou Creek "artists' quarter" of Shanghai.

  • Beijing Tokyo Art Projects
    address
    Beijing Mailbox 8503, No 4 Jiu XianQiao Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100015, Peoples Republic of China
    contact
    Senior Director: Shi Shi
    telephone
    00 86 10 8457 3245
    fax
    00 86 10 8457 3246

  • Guangdong Museum of Art
    address
    38 Yanyu Road, Er-Sha island, Guangzhou 510105, Peoples Republic of China
    contact
    Guo Xiaoyan
    telephone
    00 86 20 8735 1261
    fax
    00 86 20 8735 1326

    The Guangdong Museum of Art consists of twelve indoor exhibition halls covering an area of 8,000 square meters as well as an outdoor Sculpture Garden that is 5,000 square meters in size. Each year, the museum hosts nearly sixty exhibitions. The museum hosts a variety of exhibitions from smaller intimate looks at the work of contemporary artists to exhibitions larger in scale such as that of sculptor Henry Moore. Recently, the Guangdong Museum of Art has initiated a Triennial Exhibition of contemporary art, both Chinese and international. Every year, the museum displays a large exhibition of the museum's permanent collection of sculpture, painting, and ceramic work. The permanent collection includes contemporary artistic works of the coastal areas of China and Guangdong Province as well as work by overseas Chinese artists. In addition, the institution hosts exhibitions of artwork from various cultures within and without Asia as well as invitational exhibitions. The Guangdong Museum of Art also holds great importance to exhibiting work at artists' requests every year.

  • Shanghart
    address
    2A Gaolan Road, Shanghai 200020, Peoples Republic of China
    contact
    Director: Lorenz Helbling
    telephone
    00 86 21 6359 3923
    fax
    00 86 21 6359 4570

  • Vitamin Creative Space
    address
    Room 301, 29 Hao, Heng Yi Jie, Chi Gang Xi Lu, Guangzhou 510300, Peoples Republic of China
    contact
    Director: Zhang Wei
    telephone
    00 86 20 8429 6760
    fax
    00 86 20 8429 5609

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

  • Chinese Society of Museums
    address
    29 May 4th Street, Beijing, China

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.