Shanghai is to transform the Expo 2010's China Pavilion into an art gallery to rival those in New York and Paris, the city government announced yesterday.
The new gallery in the Pudong New Area - to be called the China Art Palace - will be on a par with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, a senior official said.
This is part of a plan to make Shanghai "an international cultural metropolis," Zong Ming, deputy head of the Publicity Department of Shanghai's Party committee, told a press conference yesterday.
The China Art Palace will collect top-level art from home and abroad, primarily to showcase the origins and development of China's modern arts.
It is part of a plan by the city government to build 16 new major museums and art galleries and many smaller museums by 2015 and make Shanghai an "international cultural metropolis," said Zong.
"In the future, Shanghai residents will be able to find a museum and cultural venue within a 15-minute walk of their homes," she said.
"The number and quality of art galleries and museums is an important measure of cultural standing - cities such as New York and Paris are famed for their top-level galleries," said Teng Junjie, art director of the Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture Radio Film and TV.
The palace, which will cover an area of 70,000 square meters, will open on a limited basis next October, Zong said.
Most facilities from the former China Pavilion can be retained, bringing considerable savings, she said.
The three levels of the former main exhibition hall of the Expo pavilion will showcase the history and development of modern art of Shanghai and China, while the former joint pavilion for Chinese provinces and municipalities will have separate exhibition rooms for famous Chinese modern artists, including top Shanghai painter Cheng Shifa, said Teng.
"The China Art Palace will be a cultural and arts venue to impress the world and drive the development of China's art," said Hong Hao, the former top Expo 2010 organizer.
The gallery will include some exhibits from the Shanghai Art Museum in Puxi, which is now too small for requirements, Teng said.
Due to space constraints, more than 30,000 artworks are not on display at the city's existing art galleries, said Teng. These cover just 6,800 square meters.
And inadequate gallery space has prevented the city attracting some international exhibitions, officials said.
Another new development, the China Contemporary Art Museum, will stand on the opposite bank of the Huangpu River to the art palace in a 100-year-old power plant featuring the "weather chimney" from the World Expo site.
The museum, which is set to cover 15,000 square meters in the former Urban Future Pavilion, will open at the same time as the art palace.
"After the establishment of the new projects, Shanghai will have three major museums - the existing Shanghai Museum, the Shanghai Art Palace and the China Contemporary Art Museum - for historic, modern and contemporary artworks," Teng said.
Also at the former Expo site, the Expo Museum will be built in the former Zone D area and open to the public in 2015, Zong said.
The SAIC-GM Pavilion will become the Shanghai Children's Art Theater in 2013 and an international dance center will be built near the Hongqiao Development Zone in Changning District.
An archeological museum will open in 2013 on the Songze Ancient Culture Ruins in Qingpu District. This is the origin of the Songze Culture (3900-3200 BC), one of the city's earliest cultures.
Other planned projects include the China Modern and Contemporary News Publication Museum; the Museum of Shanghai History; the Shanghai Intangible Cultural Heritage Center and Shanghai Library (second phase).