An ambitious USD279 million art institution will rise on the banks of the Yellow River in 2014 in north-western China. Upon completion, the eighty hectare Yellow River Arts Centre will incorporate multifaceted facilities for research, education and leisure.

Yellow River Arts Centre building designed by We Architech Anonymous

Yellow River Arts Centre building designed by We Architect Anonymous.

The plan for opening a privately-funded not-for-profit Yellow River Arts Centre in Yinchuan, the capital city of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and the cradle of China’s ancient civilisation, was first announced at ART HK 12 on 17 May 2012.

According to the press release:

This major new centre encompassing a museum, contemporary sculptural grounds, art history park and artists village will provide a meeting place for local and international audiences and arts communities to participate in the exhibition, discussion and research of contemporary culture in all its forms, and to reignite the rich cultural heritage of the region.

Notable fine art collection

The permanent collection of Yinchuan Museum will be comprised of oil paintings from the late Qing Dynasty to early 1900s, donated by the founder of the museum, Liu Wenjin. The collection will also include paintings by George Chinnery, Italian painter Giuseppe Castiglione and works by Shi Beilin, known to Western public as Spolium and credited as the first Chinese painter to use oil to paint on canvas.

The museum’s collection of Western and Chinese works is set to highlight the development of Chinese oil painting through cross-cultural exchange of Western and Chinese painting techniques and styles. It is also expected to have a significant influence on the whole body of research and literature on the history and development of Sino-west cultural exchange and its impact on China’s fine art in general.

Yellow River Arts Centre interior design by We Architech Anonymous

Yellow River Arts Centre interior design by We Architect Anonymous.

The museum’s inaugural exhibition, entitled “New Silk Road, New Heavenly Realm”, along with late Qing oil paintings, will present contemporary art works in different media such as oil on canvas, oil on glass, ink and wash, watercolours, sculptures and installations.

The centre will include other departments such as the Sculpture Ground, which “will feature a changing exhibition of newly commissioned sculptures”; the Art History Park that will present 2000 years of art history with an extensive collection of reproductions of the major 604 sculptural works from the early Qin to Qing Dynasty; and an artist village that will offer residency programmes for various art professionals.

Yellow River Arts Centre interior design by We Architech Anonymous

Yellow River Arts Centre interior design by We Architect Anonymous.

Budding culture hub

Ms Liu Wenjin, the founder and chair person of the Yellow River Arts Centre says,

The Yellow River Arts Centre is an ambitious cultural organisation of global significance and strong local foundations. It will provide a dynamic cultural hub for the city and Ningxia and a place of culture, education, research and leisure to improve the well-being of residents of the city and Northwest China at large.

As noted on Xinhua English news website, Kwok Kian Chow, deputy chairman of the Centre’s Board also commented, “The project has promise and ambition to generate new transnational nexuses and constellations for arts forums and practices.”

Identified as one of the future major art institutions of Northwest China, ARTINFO and Xinhua News Agency both note that the centre is set to become an important contemporary addition to an increasingly developing Chinese art scene.

China museum boom?

An article published by the BBC speculates that this project can be taken as further evidence of China’s economic boom and growing population of China’s wealthy art collectors.

The trend is particularly visible in China, where a reported 395 museums opened last year as the government’s drive to achieve world status embraces culture as well as economic might.

A number of new domestic art museums is scheduled for opening in major cities of China. Two of China’s best known art collectors, Wang Wei and her billionaire husband Liu Yiqian plan to open Long Art Museum (Dragon Art Museum) in Shanghai in autumn 2012. Another space for art, entitled De Museum, will be dedicated to Asian and Western contemporary art and is due to open in 2013. The project is championed by Chinese-Indonesian entrepreneur and Yellow River Arts Centre board member, Budi Tek.


Related Topics: art museums, Chinese artists, Chinese art venues, art funding, art collectors

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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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