Instagram :Beijing Modern Art Scene

There was a day that I was in town and the sky was blue; instead of visiting the heritage sites I spent the day getting myself soaked in modern art and architecture. this is a travel guide about some art districts, modern art museums and galleries in Beijing for wanderlusts to create their artsy Instagram moments!


Beijing Art Museum - 2

That might sound odd but Beijing is not one of my favorite cities.

Beijing Art Museum - 3I have been to Beijing a couple of times and now we are in a love/hate relationship. Firstly, the notorious air pollution that basically covers the city with smog the majority of the year. Secondly, it’s just so, so highly-populated and so, so huge that makes getting around (at times) extremely frustrating. If you are going out on a Friday afternoon, you might end up stuck in an agonizing traffic jam that you have no choice but to return to the where you started mid-way. Subway could be overloaded, cabs could be impossible to hail, and cycling could be difficult. Lastly, the attractions are usually immensely crowded (a.k.a. People Mountain People Sea) that could be difficult for one to quietly enjoy the beautiful sights.

Beijing 798 - 5Yet, the ancient Capital of China is filled with magnificent monuments and historical sites: the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, the Great Wall, the Summer Palace (Yiheyuan), 13 Ming Tombs, and more… that I believe worth the pain of getting trapped in the crowd and witnessing the fascinating Chinese art and culture before communism.

Beijing Architecture - Beijing National Stadium (Bird Nest) Herzog & de MeuronThere was a day that I was in town and the sky was blue; instead of visiting the heritage sites I spent the day getting myself soaked in modern art and architecture. Since the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the capital city was under rapid development. Cutting-edge infrastructure sprung up everywhere in the city, it has become an arena of world-class architecture firms. Art galleries and art district are growing and blooming that makes the culture hub of the country intriguing for art-lovers. I named Asia’s modern art scene an “Instagram” series because I found these contemporary art pieces always creates interesting and unique Instagram-able moments.

Beijing’s Modern Architecture

Check out these modern city developments. It was marvelous to see these buildings’ peculiar shapes, sharp lines, and a formidable scale.

  • Beijing National Stadium (Bird Nest): Herzog & de Meuron
  • The National Aquatics Center, Beijing (Watercube): PTW Architects
  • National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) (National Grand Theater): Paul Andreu (Read more! “The Beijing’s Giant Dome”)
  • Beijing Capital International Airport: Foster + Partners
  • Central China Television (CCTV) Headquarter building: Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)
  • National Library of China (North Extension): KSP Jürgen Engel Architekten
  • National Museum of China: Gerkan, Marg, and Partners
  • Digital Beijing Building: Studio Pei-Zhu, Urbanus Architecture & Design
  • LeSports Center (originally Beijing Wukesong Culture & Sports Center): Gu Yonghui
  • Linked Hybrid: Steven Holl
  • Olympic Green Tennis Centre: BVN Architecture
National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) (National Grand Theater) Paul Andreu
National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) (National Grand Theater): Paul Andreu

Today Art Museum

While the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC) is now under renovation and will come back 7 times larger than the original. Today Art Museum is a private, non-profit art museum supported the development of Chinese contemporary art since 2002. The museum hosted numerous temporary art exhibitions and it has been the place for new artists to express and present their work before they moved onto the world’s stage. Yue Minjun’s self-portraits are part of the museum’s permanent collection and are displayed right at the entrance!

Beijing Art Museum - 1

Beijing Art Museum - 4

798 Art Zone

Beijing 798 - 1798 Art Zone is the district a little bit away from the hustle-&-bustle that I could easily spend a day or two in Beijing. The district is a 30-minute walk away from Wangjing South station and the district is a cluster of art galleries, high art boutique stores, cafes, and art museums. The district was established by a small group of artists in the late 1990s, who were all looking for new working space to set up their art businesses. The area’s quality of artwork eventually gained international media attention in the early 2000s and the government declared 798 a protected art district. Apart from the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), another highly recommended contemporary exhibition site in Beijing, sites like Beijing Commune, Iberia Center for Contemporary Art, Mountain Art Beijing & Frank Lin Art Center, Asia Art Center (Beijing), Linda Gallery, PIFO New Art Gallery, PACE Beijing, Loft 3 Gallery, Enjoy Museum of Art, Whitebox… host temporary themed exhibition through the year and most of them excitingly – free! I had a great day wandering in the district (as most of the area are pedestrianized), sipping coffee and doing some shopping – I did buy a bunch of magnets of contemporary artworks by famous Chinese artists for my friends!

Beijing 798 - Ullens
Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA)


16 comments on “Instagram :Beijing Modern Art Scene”

    1. Yes, although there are drawbacks from the modernization, I am just trying to make the best out of it. The art district though, is a nice place to visit 😛


  1. It seems like there is quite a lot of art to see in Bejing. I’d love to visit one day, even with the smog and the traffic jams. I guess this is a city that you should visit a least once in a life time…I guess. I love the funny people statues. And the blue rabbit doing some kind of handstand 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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