Western and Chinese museums promote cultural ties

The museums partnerships between China and the Western world are booming. Both sides of the cultural institutions seem to embrace a mutual path, despite their differences. Overcoming the barriers of communication and censorship, these new collaboration offer benefits to all parts involved.  Chinese museums are quickly catching global attention. On the other side, Western institutions are opening to a new market and accessing the impressive Chinese art.

Museum Development in China

In the last few years, the major museums of the world have been working on new projects in China. Particularly, the partnership was born on the base of the exponential growth of museums in China. In 2007 the total of the Chinese museums was 1.722. A few years later, in 2018 the number has grown to 4.918. Actually, in the first part of this growth art resources were unevenly distributed, with 38% of the art shows in four Chinese provinces. 

the exponential growth of museums in China is remarkable

The new buildings, advanced in architecture and technology showed a lack of content and expertise. Surely, this was an opportunity the Western partners couldn’t miss.

Partnerships between Western and Chinese Museums

This new era of art began with K11, First Museum Retail in the world. The Hong Kong based foundation announced three years of exhibition exchange with the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. This was actually the prelude of a new series of cross-cultural exchanges between Chinese and French contemporary artists. However, even more importantly, it signed the advance of Chinese contemporary art on the international stage.

Centre Pompidou expansion in Shanghai

After that, the Shanghai Exhibition Center opened to the masterpieces of the Centre Pompidou. The exhibit was successful. The pieces of art provided included 71 artworks from 1906 to 1977. Above all, it was probably the first time that the Chinese audience had such rich examples of Western art of the 20th century. Centre Pompidou x West Bund Museum, inaugurated on the 5th of November saw the participation of French President Emanuel Macron. The Pompidou’s outpost in Shanghai will have access to incredible artworks. On the other side, the French-based institution will earn annual fees of about € 4 million for the loans and the branding. 

 Centre Pompidou x West Bund Museum, inaugurated on the 5th of November
credits: David Chipperfield Architects

In late 2018 the Center Pompidou launched on Weibo and WeChat. In particular, the intent behind this choice was to adapt the museum environment for Chinese visitors. The Pompidou is currently working on a WeChat program full of insights, among contents and audios.

Another testimony of the partnership comes from the Tate in London. The museum announced that it will provide three exhibitions at the opening of the Shanghai Pudong Museum of Art in 2021.

Understanding the Museums Partnership 

A new connection linked two separate realities. However, which are the true reasons behind the Western partnership with China?

Understanding the Museums Partnership between China and the Western worlds

Technology plays a role in the process. That is to say, that the use of Chinese platforms will allow museums to connect directly with a new audience. MoMa, for example, launched an interactive advent calendar using WeChat. It is clear that a whole new range of possibilities is opening now to the world’s finest museums. This new usage of social media can actually be a powerful tool for growing their brand.

In addition, merchandise cannot be left apart in the analysis. In particular, museums take a huge profit margin on retailing. Now that a new audience is in the game, is prevented a significant increase in sales.

These haven’t been the only reasons for the partnership. New archaeology discoveries led to the need of site museums that China could provide. Along with this fact, was registered a boom in private and specialized museums. 

The development of a more strategic approach across international museums is expected to attract tourists with new cultural landmarks. However, this comes as a great opportunity to collect and share data that could help build a more solid relationship.

Surely, the situation is evolving fast and it is certain that an interesting era for Western and Chinese museums has already started.

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