More so than any other city in China, Shanghai is filled with an extensive array of modern art museums which are as much about pushing new architectural boundaries as they are about challenging viewers with edgy artwork. While traditional forms of art are best viewed within a traditional setting, contemporary works are more easily embedded within novel exhibition format, allowing for more avant-garde forms of presentation and expression.
There are a handful of museums in Shanghai leading this collection of groundbreaking new institutions, the first being the The China Art Museum, popularly known as the China Art Palace due to its gleaming, majestic presence. Boasting 166,000 square meters of floor space and 27 cloistered exhibition halls, the China Art Palace is the largest art museum in Asia and Shanghai’s flagship museum within the realm of contemporary art. While not strictly a contemporary art museum, the upper floors of the museum are dedicated to the museum’s permanent collection, which prominently feature a staggering array of Chinese modern art. The China Art Palace’s main exhibitions are centered on four overarching themes: the Origin of Chinese Modern and Contemporary Art, Artworks Featuring Shanghai’s Historical and Cultural Development, the Artwork of Noted Painters and Artistic Development in the New Century. On the lower floors, you will find a glitzy array of Mao-era memorabilia and neo-socialist iconography commemorating China at the height of its collectivist surge. The museum has also hosted works from New York’s Whitney Museum, London’s British Museum, and Paris’s Maisons de Victor Hugo, so be sure to keep an eye out for visiting exhibitions. Housed in the former China Pavilion of the 2010 Shanghai Expo, the China Art Palace’s exterior facade is as impressive as the masterpieces it houses, and it’s worth noting that while the museum is free for visitors, online reservations are required in order to enter.