Centre Pompidou to pop up in Shanghai

Paris Modern art museum in negotiations to open space in West Bund cultural district


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

According to a number of sources, 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. 

Xuhui has already invested Rmb 20bn (around $3bn) in turning a former industrial area into a 11km-long “cultural corridor” on the Huangpu river. It is planning an ambitious series of museums and other landmark projects, such as a theatre, music hall and Imax cinema.

Among the planned 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 is close to Tank Shanghai, an art centre being developed by the collector Qiao Zhibing in disused oil tanks. The West Bund Museum could open in two to three years.  

The Xuhui district director, Fang Shizhong, was 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. 

David Chipperfield’s studio said that no opening date had yet been set. The Centre Pompidou declined to comment. 

According to The Art Newspaper’s sources, the annual running costs of the new museum in the West Bund are budgeted at Rmb 50m ($7.2m). Some of the museums are state-owned, some private, and other international “starchitects” have been approached to design them.

The West Bund project comes a decade after another failed scheme to set up a Centre Pompidou in Shanghai, in 2007. At that time, discussions were well advanced to establish an outpost in the city’s Luwan district, with the opening set for 2010. But 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, which ran from October until January this year, featured work by Picasso, Marcel Duchamp and other big names.

The cultural ambitions of the West Bund site are encouraging dealers to set up there. ShanghART has opened a new space, as has the Hong Kong-based dealer Edouard Malingue, above the MadeIn Gallery, created by the artist Xu Zhen.

Xuhui 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 2017.