Following its fast pace of urbanisation and transformation, China has started the construction of museums at an unprecedented scale: roughly hundred museums per year have been built over the past years. These museums are often iconic creatures, landmarks for cities that want to focus on the ‘soft side’ of urban development.
The history of the museum shows that new types and forms of museums were developed in moments of great expansion or growing public popularity. Therefore, this is a critical moment to reconsider the museum project, and (re)define what a museum is and could be. ‘The Future of the Museum’ addresses China’s current ‘museum boom’. The exhibition both analyzes the background of the current construction and documents through photography what museums that recently have been built in China look like and contain.
Columbia’s China Megacities Lab investigated the development of the contemporary art museum in China. Their research compares the global art world with the Chinese one and describes concentrations of populations, economic development and cultural infrastructure.
The production of museums in China also raises questions about institutional construction. How can the contemporary art museum position itself as an important centre of cultural discourse? For this exhibition commissioned photography investigates what new museums in China contain.
Five photographers were invited to document the inside of five museums. This collection of photos not only shows different perspectives on the content of museums in China, it also reveals their physical status – and potential…
Where the exhibition discusses the physical museum, the seminar that opens the show addresses its content. With all these new museums under construction the question arises: how are museums in China curated? Is there a new type of curatorial practice emerging in China? And does the size and planning of museums also lead to other types of cultural production?
After an introduction by Jeffrey Johnson, Clare Jacobson will speak about ‘The New Museum and its Potential for Content’. Liu Yingjiu will discuss the curatorial practice and educational program at the Rockbund Art Museum, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Aric Chen and Daan Roggeveen.
Jeffrey Johnson, architect, director China Megacities Lab, curator Shenzhen Biennale 2013
Clare Jacobson, writer and author of the forthcoming book New Museums in China
Liu Yingjiu, deputy director, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai
Aric Chen, curator M+, Hong Kong
Daan Roggeveen, curator public program HKU/Shanghai Study Centre
Columbia University, New York
China Megacities Lab; Jeffrey Johnson, Zoe Florence