Treasures of Shanghai's Art Scene

Treasures of Shanghai's Art Scene

By Candice SongUpdated May. 17, 2021

Shanghai is one of the art capitals of Asia, if not the world. In such a huge city finding the art venues can be difficult but art is often found in extraordinary places. Here are few of the best to explore.

The Rockbund Art Museum (RAM)

The Rockbund Art Museum

The Bund is a good place to start an art tour of Shanghai as you will undoubtedly be sightseeing there anyway.

RAM is housed in a supremely elegant Art Deco building, on six floors with a nice café at the top.

Dating from 1932 the building combines Western and Chinese elements. It was built for the Royal Asiatic Society to be the first modern museum in China. It opened as RAM in 2010.

Matthew Liu Fine Arts

On the other side of the block you can visit Matthew Liu Fine Arts, upstairs in one of the buildings also restored by the Rockbund group. A small space with good international artists.

Shanghai Gallery of Art

At the other end of the Bund, in the building known as 3 on the Bund, again upstairs (take the elevator in the lobby) and providing an excellent view of the Huang Pu (Yellow River). Shanghai Gallery of Art has an unpredictably varied programme from painting to audacious installations in a striking space.

Peal Lam Gallery

Two blocks back in another handsome Art Deco interior Pearl Lam, the extravagant socialite international galleryist, holds court. The gallery brings an international group of artists to Shanghai.

Moganshan Road No.50 (M50)


In the characteristic industrial buildings of a former textile mill you will find a significant group of contemporary art galleries, and some cafes and craft shops. 

The roster of galleries comes and goes. Some are tucked away upstairs in the buildings alongside other creative businesses so it is a good place to explore. From a quality point of view look out for ShangART who have two venues here, Chronos Art Centre, who specilise in new media; A+ and Antenna Space have also created large and good looking exhibition environments, preserving the character of the buildings—and try not to miss the more modest 55, Hakgojae, Vanguard and Ofoto galleries.

Red Town also known as Hongfang Creative Industrial Zone

Outdoor sculptures at Red TownOutdoor sculptures at Red Town

A handful of galleries, cafes and design shops are based in this former steel works around the Minsheng Art Museum.

Shanghai Sculpture Space on the other side of a pleasant green area, dotted with public art. It is strange and dingy and takes the shabby post industrial aesthetic little more seriously!

On Stage, a good music venue, is also opposite the Museum.

Minsheng Art Museum

Minsheng Art Museum itself is one of the best places to see contemporary art in town. 

Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum

There's no permanent collection but unfailingly impressive shows in a environment that is still a little more edgy, or call it shabby, than some newer museums.

Power Station of Art (PSA)

Shanghai Power Station of Art

Housed in the massive renovated Nanshi Power Station and retaining its noticeable 541 foot chimney the Museum overlooks the river and the sites of the 2010 Expo. PSA is China's only state-run contemporary art museum. It was opened in 2012 to stage the spectacular Shanghai Biennale. The Museum is so large it puts on several exhibitions simultaneously on its many levels. It has no permanent collection so the shows keep changing.

West Bund

This is the new cultural hub of Shanghai where private museums have been incentivised to settle and commercial gallery spaces have followed. It’s a pleasant riverside area that is pioneering its approach to urban planning, which at the moment puts it in a restless state of construction and development.

West Bund MuseumWest Bund Museum

The second branch of the collectors Wang Wei and Liu Yiqian’s museum empire. The Museum shows both contemporary and historical work from a collection that seems to be as deep as it is wide. The building is a jewel on the river bank.

Yuz Contemporary Art Museum


A beautiful art hanger, formally part Longhua Airport. It is where Chinese-Indonesian collector, Budi Tek shows off parts of his own huge collection of Western and Asian art and whatever works he can borrow as his influence spreads internationally.

SCôP Shanghai Center of Photography

Right next door to Yuz Museum this is a good looking smaller gallery with changing thematic shows mixing historic and recent photography.

The West Bund Culture Zone

Behind SCôP and Yuz is the west bund culture zone with a number of intersting contemporary galleries in stylishly converted warehouse spaces. Some of these have recently emigrated from M50 or expanded into this area. Look into ShangART, MadeIn, Qiao Space and Aike-Dellarco if you have time.

China Art Museum

China Art Museum

Your art tour of Shanghai really ought to encompass this overwhelming, and often exhausting, museum in the former Chinese Expo pavilion on the other side of the river in Pudong (East Bank). Works on display span modern and contemporary periods, and there are numerous temporary exhibitions, including touring shows from abroad. Information tends to be in Chinese making it a little more challenging. A visit is worth it just for the extravagant building and its vistas of the city.

Exploring Shanghai

Shanghai's Pearl Tower Shanghai's Pearl Tower

A great place to start to explore this exhilarating city is on a short break such as our visa free three-day Essence of Shanghai Tour.

To see a bit more of the amazing heritage and culture Shanghai has to offer five-days will open your eyes to the tranquility and traditional culture of the water town as well as the vibrant pace of the city.

China Highlights will tailor-make a special trip that's just for you that is customized to your interests andbudgets. We offer the best travel experiences for you, your family, and friends when it comes to exploring China.

Contact us at China Highlights to develop your own amazing Shanghai itinerary.

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