Zhou Tiehai Appointed Director of Minsheng Art Museum
  Resource:Artforum   2010-06-10 23:30:17  

Xhingyu Chen reports for the New York Times that Shanghai-based asrtist Zhou Tiehai has taken over as the director for the Minsheng Art Museum in Shanghai. Tucked inside Redtown, an art and design complex developed by the local government, the Minsheng Art Museum is relatively small, with only two floors of exhibition space. The museum was founded, and is completely funded, by the China Minsheng Banking Corporation, one of the largest banks in China. It is the second cultural institution owned by the bank, which acquired the Yan-huang Art Museum in Beijing in 2007. While Yan-huang focuses on Chinese art from the nineteenth- and early-twentieth centuries, with regular shows on masters like Xu Beihong and Liu Haisu, Minsheng was built specifically for Chinese contemporary art.

Asked whether he had any qualms about the museum being sponsored by a bank, Zhou said that to him it doesn’t matter if a large corporation or a nonprofit group is at the helm, as long as the quality of the works, exhibitions, and staff are high.

“The museum does not have a collection yet,” confirmed Zhou, “and it is not certain how many pieces it hopes to collect. Chinese contemporary art is too expensive, and all of the best art has already been bought, taken out of the country.”

The museum faces other pressing issues in its battle to establish itself. China is a country of many museums, but very few are professionally run; staff are often government-mandated scholars with no professional experience. The municipal government of Shanghai announced several years ago its plan to build one hundred museums by the 2010 World Expo, but contemporary art museums like Minsheng were not included in the plan. Zhou said that “it is easy to build museums but difficult to run them.”

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