May 28 2020

Beijing Gets New Museum by Millennials

by Charmaine Kong

Rendering of X Museum, Beijing. Image via X Museum’s website.

A private, nonprofit contemporary art museum, dubbed X Museum, will open on May 29 in Beijing, coinciding with the delayed Gallery Weekend Beijing running from May 22–31. 

Spearheaded by 26-year-old collector Michael Xufu Huang and 27-year-old businesswoman Theresa Tse, the institution is housed in a two-storey 24,000-square-meter building in Chaoyang district, designed by Beijing-based architecture studio TEMP. The eponymous “X”— taken from Huang’s name—references connections, youth, and futurity, aligning with the museum’s aim to nurture young talent. The museum’s collection comprises around 450 private holdings acquired by the co-founders, and includes paintings by Alex Gardner, installations by Pamela Rosenkranz, and Amalia Ulman’s social media performance Excellences & Perfections (2014).

The inaugural exhibition, “How Do We Begin?,” is part one of a new triennial by the museum focused on emerging artists, and will conclude on September 13. Curated by Poppy Dongxue Wu, the first edition brings together 33 Chinese artists under the age of 40 to examine the relationship between humans and technology in a globalized discourse. The jury for the first X Museum Triennial Award includes Hans-Ulrich Obrist, creative director of London’s Serpentine Galleries; Diana Campbell Betancourt, artistic director of the Samdani Art Foundation; Zhang Zikang, director of Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts; and Kate Fowle, director of New York’s MoMA PS1.

This is not the first time that Huang, who sits on the board of New York’s New Museum, has opened an art space. When he was a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) in 2014, he co-founded Beijing’s M Woods with the collecting couple Lin Han and Wanwan Lei. Huang resigned from the private museum and withdrew his collection last September to start his own venture, citing a desire for “greater creative control and flexibility,” as reported by Artsy. He also co-founded the commercial Hong Kong gallery Mine Project last year. Fellow UPenn graduate Tse, who is chairman and executive director of her parents’ billion-dollar enterprise Sino Biopharmaceutical, was listed by Forbes as one of China’s Top 100 Businesswomen in 2018. The millennial duo’s shared visions led them to their partnership in June 2019.

With Chinese museums shuttered to curb the spread of Covid-19, X Museum’s original launch date during Gallery Weekend Beijing in March was derailed. Despite the delay, the institution enticed visitors with an interactive virtual project, with the graphic design of the interface loosely based on the museum’s physical structure, giving audiences a preview of the space. The game-like site created by architect and artist Pete Jiadong Qiang was launched on March 6.

The museum is currently planning a solo exhibition of Norwegian-German artist Yngve Holen, with details yet to be announced.

Charmaine Kong is an editorial intern of ArtAsiaPacific.

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