Openings Museums China

Private museum opens in Nanjing designed by Steven Holl

Sifang Art Museum will be one of 20 buildings by international architects in parkland complex

Sifang Art Museum, designed by Steven Holl Architects

The Sifang Art Museum, part of a $164m development in a national park outside Nanjing, opened its doors on 2 November with an exhibition of works by contemporary artists including Olafur Eliasson, Luc Tuymans, Zeng Fanzhi and Takashi Murakami.

The private museum, designed by the New York-based architect Steven Holl, is the centrepiece of a larger project: the Chinese International Practical Exhibition of Architecture (CIPEA), which is ten years in the making. The museum is just one of 20 buildings under construction in the 115-acre complex, each designed by a leading international architect, such as Arata Isozaki, David Adjaye and Wang Shu. The ambitious project is funded by the property developer Lu Jun and his son Lu Xun, who bought the land in 2002. So far, 11 buildings are nearly complete, and more are expected to be finished next year.

There is no budget for each architect, Lu Xun said at a press conference at the museum’s opening, “because in China, nobody has done anything like this before. We have no clue how much money it will cost”. Lu Xun hopes the profit from the a hotel, conference centre and private villas, available for rent, will cover the museum’s budget.

When it was first founded by Lu Jun and Lu Xun in 2005, the Sifang Art Museum operated out of the third floor of an office building. It closed in 2009 to prepare for the relocation to CIPEA. “The Garden of Diversion”, which has been organised by the Belgian curator Philippe Pirotte, examines the Chinese tradition of philosophical gardens.

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