Shanghai Debuts the David Chipperfield-designed West Bund Museum

The 22,000-square-meter museum is home to the first-ever Asian outpost of the Centre Pompidou.

The minimalist interiors.

China has an abiding love for all things big, and Shanghai is no exception, as evinced by the emergence of a 940-hectare cultural district on former industrial land stretching more than eight kilometers along the Huangpu River.

Its newest addition? The 22,000-square-meter West Bund Museum, home to the first-ever Asian outpost of the Centre Pompidou. Celebrated British architect David Chipperfield gave the building its understated appearance, responding to the triangular site by spinning three rectangular, 17-meter-high exhibition halls off a central atrium.

Each one is clad in translucent recycled glass and punctuated by large windows that frame views of the river and the city, providing a blank canvas for what’s been billed as a major cultural collaboration between France and China. The first of three semi-permanent exhibitions scheduled over the next five years, “The Shape of Time” showcases 100 artworks, mostly on loan from the Paris institution, that collectively chronicle the history of 20th-century art.

Expect to see pieces by household names like Picasso, Kandinsky, and Miró, alongside notable Chinese contemporary artists such as Cai Guo-Qiang, known for his gunpowder paintings and explosive installations.

This article originally appeared in the December 2019/January 2020 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Riverside Renaissance”).

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