Centre Pompidou is preparing to open its Shanghai outpost on Friday. The new contemporary art museum is officially called the Centre Pompidou x West Bund Museum Project.
The Centre Pompidou has begun its expansion into China by opening a major new waterfront museum in Shanghai, home to around 100 loaned artworks. This is in an agreement with the West Bund Museum and marks the start of a programme of exhibitions over the next five years. These will feature several pieces from the French museum’s collection.
The Centre Pompidou x West Bund Museum Project has been described by a spokesperson as the “largest-ever cultural exchange and cooperation project” between France and China. It officially opens to the public on Friday, following an inauguration ceremony this week which was attended by the French President, Emmanuel Macron.
Museums expanding into China
The Centre Pompidou already has branches in Malaga, Spain and Brussels, Belgium. However, this is the museums first major project outside of Europe.
Other well-known museum brands have already been attempting to capture this market. For example, London’s National Gallery has a five-year plan to engage with the Chinese market, starting with a subway takeover in June 2018 at Shanghai metro station and a pop-up gallery featuring some of the world’s most well-known paintings.
The National Gallery also set up merchandise sales on the online retail platform TMall. And when the British Museum opened its online store on the platform in July 2018, some items sold out within days.
In 2017, The Louvre ran a touring exhibition in China. ‘Inventing le Louvre: From Palace to Museum over 800 Years’ visited the Hong Kong Heritage Museum and the National Museum of China in Beijing.
The Centre Pompidou’s Chinese partners will be in charge of the operation of the museum. This may raise some questions about how the French institution will deal with the country’s strict censorship laws. Chinese law dictates that exhibition content is approved by the authority in charge of cultural affairs.
Image: Centre Pompidou x West Bund Museum