Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Yet More Museums

Good day in Shanghai visiting three new private museums: Aurora, HOW and Yuz. 
The Aurora Museum is on the east bank of the Huangpo River in the shadow of Shanghai's cluster of mega-skycrapers. It's owned by the Taiwan office equipment company of the same name, the Chairman of which, Cheng Yongtai, collects Chinese antiquities. So next to the shiny gold tower that is Aurora's China HQ, is a museum filled with jade, Buddhist images, ceramics and illustrated stones. It's an amazing collection but what's particularly impressive is the way it's displayed. The exterior of the building is nothing special but the interior is designed by Tadao Ando. So of course less is more, exquisite pinpoint lighting, succinct captioning, super-tasteful. Next to it they're opening another gallery for contemporary international art, so that's what I was there for.
From there to the new Free Trade Zone out in Pudong's suburbia. The HOW Art Museum is owned by real estate tycoon Zeng Hao and his passion is for contemporary art, mostly Chinese but he has a few Damien Hirsts, Yayoi Kusama and a particularly strong collection of Joseph Beuys. The museum (as building) doesn't exist yet but the designs look amazing and it will open in 2017. The museum as entity, collection and curatorial team (headed up by Korean Director, Yun Cheagab) does exist, however, and they've already presented exhibitions in other venues, which is an interesting concept.
And finally, the Yuz Museum, owned by Chinese-Indonesian agribusiness billionaire and art patron, Budi Tek. It's a former aircraft hanger, transformed by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, on the west bank of the Huangpo (and part of the West Bund Cultural Corridor - see this post). Tek, a fun, friendly guy, shows me round the cavernous space which had a soft opening last month but will formally open in May with its first exhibition. He has a huge collection of contemporary art, some of which gets shown in his smaller Yuz Foundation Museum in Jakarta which opened in 2008 or leant to other museums, but the majority sits in storage - hence the need for this new space. 

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