Officials at the Centre Pompidou have confirmed that the Paris museum is expanding its empire with plans to open an offshoot branch in Shanghai. More than 20 exhibitions drawn from the holdings of the Beaubourg Gallery will be shown in the new outpost, called Le Centre Pompidou Shanghai (West Bund), which is based in a wing of the new 25,000 sq. m West Bund Art Museum designed by the UK architect David Chipperfield. The museum is due to open late 2018 while the new Pompidou satellite will launch early 2019.
In March, we reported that the project is being driven by the district government of Xuhui and the Shanghai-based West Bund Development Group, which builds and manages real estate in the area. Xuhui has already invested around Rmb20bn (around $3bn) in turning a former industrial area into a 9.4 sq. km “cultural corridor” on the Huangpu River. The so-called West Bund Museum Mile encompasses privately run museums such as the Long Museum and the Yuz Museum.
A final contract between the French and Chinese delegations, which is renewable after five years, is due to be signed before the end of the year (a memorandum of understanding has been agreed). The annual fee payable to the Paris institution is estimated to be €1.5m ($1.6m), in line with the fee it has charged for its services elsewhere, for example in the Spanish city of Málaga where a Pompidou pop-up opened early 2015.
“This cultural partnership [with the West Bund Group] will also allow the Centre Pompidou to present Chinese contemporary art in Paris,” says a gallery statement. Other branded Pompidou exhibition spaces are planned in South Korea and Brussels.
The West Bund project comes a decade after the failure of a scheme to set up a Centre Pompidou in Shanghai, in 2007. At that time, discussions were well advanced to establish an outpost in the Luwan district, with an opening set for 2010. A premature announcement by the French ministry of culture apparently perturbed the Chinese government and the deal fell through.
Last year, the Centre Pompidou made its Chinese debut with a show at the Shanghai Exhibition Centre. Masterpieces from the Centre Pompidou 1906-77 (7 October 2016-15 January 2017) featured work by Picasso, Duchamp and other leading figures.