Openings Museums China

Hangzhou gets its first private museum

The T Museum, owned by the art investment company Tianrenhe, opens in the affluent city south of Shanghai

Yuan Gong's installation Scented Air, 2014, at the T Museum opening

The eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou got its first private contemporary art museum earlier this month with the opening of the T Museum. Called the Tianrenhe Museum in Mandarin after its art investment company owner, which also operates the for-profit, two-year-old T Art Center in Beijing, the T Museum is located in a converted 1960s train depot and factory, refitted at the cost of several million yuan. The 2,000 sq. m museum, next to the historic White Tower Temple, includes a distinctive 200-meter wall, which has led to it being dubbed imprecisely “China’s longest museum”.

“Hangzhou is rich in contemporary art, but this is its first private art museum,” says the museum’s director Shen Qibin, a curator and art dealer who was previously involved with the Zendai and Himalayas museums in Shanghai, just to the north. The capital of Zhejiang, one of the country’s richest provinces, Hangzhou is home to the leading art school China Academy of Art, and Shen points out that 15 of the 61 Chinese artists in the opening show “Fusion/Convergence” are from the city.

Although future shows will be more international in scope, for the opening, “the goal is to express China’s local problems via art,” Shen says. “It is about societal problems and contradictions, which are all very complex.” The number of artists in the show is meant to represent the tumultuous past six decades of Chinese history, he adds. Shen says the museum will focus on research-based exhibitions about Chinese contemporary art and international exchanges, including a residency programme for ten young curators to come to China, understand its art and issues, and organise exhibitions.

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