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Treasures of Shanghai's Art Scene

Written by Candice SongUpdated Jan. 16, 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.

  • There are three exhibitions a year, usually a group show, a solo exhibition of new work, and an international artist new to Shanghai.
  • 20 Huqiu Road
  • Admission usually 20¥ but sometimes free.

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.

  • Room 201-203, 115 Yuanming Yuan Road (free entry)

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.

  • 3rd Floor, 3 Zhongshan Dong Yi Road (free entry)

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.

  • 181 Middle Jiangxi Road, near Fuzhou Road (free entry)
  • Nearest subway for all Bund venues: East Nanjing Road, Lines 2 & 10
  • All venues open Tues - Sun, 10am-6pm, except Shanghai Gallery of Art 11am-7pm

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.

  • 50 Moganshan Road 莫干山路50号, all free admission except Chronos Art Centre who may charge 20¥ for some exhibitions.
  • Open daily 10am – 6pm but probably best to avoid Monday and even Tuesday.
  • It's a bit of walk from the subway, about 15 minutes: Jiangning Road L13 or Zhongtan Road Lines 3&4

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.

  • 570 Huaihai Xi Road near Hongqiao Road 淮海西路570号
  • Open Tues - Sun, 10am – 6pm Admission usually 20¥
  • subway: Hongqiao Rd, Lines 10, 3 & 4

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.

  • 200 Huayuangang Road
  • Open Tues - Sun, 11am – 7pm Admission free except some special exhibitions
  • It's a bit of walk from the subway, about 15 minutes, but there is a bus 1212: South Xizang Road, Lines 4 and 8

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.

  • Lane 3398, Longteng Avenue,
  • Open Tues - Sun, 10am – 6pm; 10am – 9pm Friday to Saturday. There is an admission charge and it can be up to 150¥ for some shows.
  • subway: Middle Longhua Road, Lines 7 & 12

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.

  • 35 Fenggu Road, near Longteng Avenue
  • Open Tues - Sun, 10.30am - 5.30pm There is an admission charge and it can be up to 150¥ but is usually 80¥
  • subway: Yunjin Road L.11

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.

  • 2555 Longteng Avenue, near Fenggu Lu
  • Open Tues - Sun, 10.30am - 5.30pm admission charge 20¥
  • subway: Yunjin Road L.11

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.

  • All open Tues - Sun, 10am - 6pm admission free

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.

  • 161 Shangnan Road, near Guozhan Road
  • Open Tue–Sun, 10am–6pm admission free
  • subway: China Art Museum L.8, its actually almost as close to Yaohua Road Lines 8 & 7.

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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