Centre Pompidou could pop up in Shanghai, in city’s West Bund ‘cultural corridor’

Paris contemporary art centre in negotiations to open space after setback ten years ago


Plans are well advanced for Paris’s Centre Pompidou to open a branch in Shanghai’s West Bund, The Art Newspaper understands.

The project is being driven by the district government of Xuhui and the Shanghai-based West Bund Development Group, which builds and manages real estate in the area, according to a number of sources.

Xuhui has already invested some Rmb20bn (around $3bn) in turning a former industrial area into an 11km-long “cultural corridor” on the Huangpu River. It is planning an ambitious series of museums and other landmark projects, such as a theatre, a music hall and an Imax cinema.

Among the projected institutions is the West Bund Art Museum designed by the British architect David Chipperfield, which would house the Shanghai branch of the Centre Pompidou. The site chosen for the museum is close to Tank Shanghai, an art centre developed by the collector Xiao Zhibing in former oil tanks. The museum could be open in two or three years.

The Xuhui district’s director, Fang Shizong, was recently quoted in Shanghai Daily saying that the museum will show art lent by the Centre Pompidou and will also highlight China’s contemporary art. The annual fee payable to the Paris institution is estimated to be €1.5m ($1.6m), in line with the fee it has charged for its services elsewhere, for example in the Spanish city of Málaga.

According to David Chipperfield Architects, no opening date for the West Bund Art Museum has yet been set. The Centre Pompidou declined to comment.

The Art Newspaper’s sources put the annual running costs of new museums in the West Bund at around Rmb50m ($7.2m). Some of the museums are state-owned and some are private, and international “starchitects” have been brought in to design them.

The West Bund project comes a decade after the failure of a scheme to set up a Centre Pompidou in Shanghai, in 2007. At that time, discussions were well advanced to establish an outpost in the Luwan district, with an opening set for 2010. A premature announcement by the French ministry of culture apparently perturbed the Chinese government and the deal fell through.

Last year, the Centre Pompidou made its Chinese debut with a show at the Shanghai Exhibition Centre. Masterpieces from the Centre Pompidou 1906-77 (7 October 2016-15 January 2017) featured work by Picasso, Duchamp and other big names.

The cultural ambition of the West Bund site is encouraging dealers to set up there. ShanghART has opened a new space there, as has the Hong Kong-based dealer Edouard Malingue, above the MadeIn Gallery, which was created by the artist Xu Zhen. Xuhui also funds and hosts an annual art fair, West Bund Art and Design, which is due to hold its fourth edition from 10 to 12 November this year.