Pingtan’s under-construction museum, set to be the largest private art museum in Asia, aims to promote cultural exchange between China and Taiwan.

Pingtan Art Museum, slated to open in 2016, will reach out to China’s island neighbour Taiwan literally as well as diplomatically. Designed by Beijing’s MAD Architects, the 40,000 square metre museum complex will be housed on an artificial island off the mainland, accessible only by an undulating bridge.

Pingtan Art Museum will be located on a manmade island accessible only by undulating bridge. Image courtesy MAD.

Pingtan Art Museum will be located on a man-made island accessible only by bridge. Image courtesy MAD.

Promising to show the world’s largest private art collection in Asia at a projected construction cost of RMB 800 million (USD 130,000 million), the “floating island” museum complex has been designed by Ma Yansong’s MAD Architects group. Plans on the company’s website reveal the structure to be composed of three concrete mounds housing exhibition halls and public spaces. Museum backers, cited in Dezeen magazine, claim the institution will eventually contain over 1000 pieces of art, although details of the collection have yet to be announced.

The museum is the flagship project of Pingtan's wholesale redevelopment as cultural meeting point between China and Taiwan. Image courtesy MAD.

The museum is the flagship project of Pingtan’s wholesale redevelopment as cultural meeting point between China and Taiwan. Image courtesy MAD.

Once complete, the Art Museum will play an integral part in Beijing’s soft power push in the area, notes ARTINFOPingtan, which is itself an island, is located on the east coast of Fujian province, and is China’s closest large island to Taiwan. Currently home to a military base and fishing ports, the Chinese island was designated a “Comprehensive Experimental Zone” by Beijing in 2010. Pingtan is now undergoing wholesale redevelopment, with an entirely new city under construction to “encourage closer trade and cultural ties with neighboring Taiwan”, according to Dezeen.

in 2013, Pingtan's redevelopment is still on the quiet side. Image courtesy MAD.

in 2013, Pingtan’s redevelopment is still on the quiet side. Image courtesy MAD.

Quoted in eVolo magazine, MAD Architects claim the museum and its innovative structure will be influential in “bridging the gap between artificial and natural, city and culture, tradition and future.” However, so far the initiative seems to have been less successful in bridging the diplomatic divide between China and Taiwan: the latter’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) reminded readers of The Taipei Times in March 2012 that, although China may promote the project as a beacon of cross-strait collaboration, these were “not the facts.”

Speaking to The Taipei Times, Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Kao Charng said that although the council would not discourage Taiwanese from investing financially in Pingtan’s regeneration, the MAC was not directly co-piloting the scheme.

“It’s fine, [China] can do whatever it likes, but we can’t let it mislead people in Taiwan that it [the project] has the consent of our government,” Kao said.

Cassandra Naji


Related Topics: Chinese art, Taiwanese art, museum collections, art as soft power

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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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