Museum Boom in China: Session One

Friday, October 14, 2016

Session One: Museumification of China

A panel discussion on the current “museumification” of China, which will focus on the causes and consequences of the recent museum building boom.

Zhu Pei, Studio Pei-Zhu
Steven Holl, Columbia GSAPP
Aric Chen, M+ Museum, Hong Kong
Response by Weiping Wu, Columbia GSAPP
Moderated by Jeffrey Johnson, Director of the School of Architecture, University of Kentucky

Concurrent with China’s rapid urbanization, and as part of its soft power initiative, is a museum building boom, which has produced an average of approximately 100 new museums a year across the country over the past few years. Astonishingly, during some of those years over 400 museums were built. These iconic structure–landmarks for newly planned government and civic centers, central business districts, cultural districts, and in some cases, residential and commercial developments–symbolize the importance of culture in the identity of a new China.

With ambitions to hastily increase museum per capita numbers to international standards, challenges persist in filling the abundant spaces with content. How many museums does China need? Can the museum in China redefine its role in society, whether socially, politically or culturally? And, what new architectural forms and spatial organizations are being invented to accommodate these new possibilities?

In addition to addressing some of the above questions regarding the museum boom in China, the forum will also situate the building boom within a global context. How have global influences and pressures influenced the proliferation of new museums in China? How can we compare the enormous investment in cultural capital in China with other international examples? How has what has been happening in China influenced museums globally?

Co-Organized by Columbia GSAPP, Jeffrey Johnson, and John Rajchman.

Supported in part by Weatherhead East Asian Institute.


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