'Asia's largest art museum' set to open in Shanghai
China's commercial heart Shanghai hopes to boost its international art profile by opening a ginormous exhibition space which is more than twice the size of Buckingham Palace (77,000 square meters), one of the world’s largest palaces.
The city is banking on its new art landmark, the China Art Museum, to rival internationally renowned museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Musée d'Orsay in Paris in the near future.
Colossal culture center
The new China Art Museum (中华艺术宫) covers 166,000 square meters with 64,000 square meters of display space.
It is sited in the former China Pavilion, a legacy of the Shanghai 2010 Expo, and will open its doors to the public on October 1.
"Speaking of the size, China Art Museum is the largest art museum in China or even Asia," said Teng Junjie (滕俊杰), an official who was involved in the planning of the museum, as reported by China's state news agency Xinhua.
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It would take an average visitor about two hours to walk through all the 27 exhibition halls without stopping, according to a Shanghai reporter who joined a preview of China Art Museum in late August.
Officials have not revealed the cost of revamping the China Art Museum, but to erect the former China Pavilion, Shanghai spent RMB 15 billion (US$238 million).
China Art Museum is due to open with five simultaneous exhibitions.
More than 1,400 artworks from China and abroad will be on display in the crown-shaped, 70-meter-tall structure.
According to Xinhua, the museum is working with influential art organizations from around the world -- such as the British Museum, Musée d'Orsay and Centre Pompidou -- to set up future events.
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China Art Museum, however, is not the only major art event planned for Shanghai on National Day.
The former Expo site will also witness the launch of the 15,000-square-meter Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art (上海当代艺术博物馆), which is a 15-minute drive from China Art Museum.
The 12-exhibition-hall museum is located in the former Urban Future Pavilion and will open with the 2012 Shanghai Biennale.
The opening of both museums is part of Shanghai's effort to turn its former Expo park into the city's culture headquarters.
The authorities are expecting an annual total of 3 million visitors at the two museums.
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China Art Museum is on Guozhan Lu (国展路) near Yuntai Lu (云台路). Nearest metro stop is the China Art Museum stop on Metro Line 8.
Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art is on Huayuan Gang Lu (花园港路) near Miaojiang Lu (苗江路). Nearest metro stop is the Xizang Nan Lu stop on Metro Line 8.
According to Chinese media, admission for both museums are mostly free for the foreseeable future, with exception of some "special exhibition zones" which are expected to cost less than RMB 20 (US$3) to enter.
Booking required for tickets through artshow.eastday.com, which is in simplified Chinese only.