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  • Aug 23, 2022

Private Art Museum in Guangzhou Closes after 19 Years

The entrance of Guangdong Times Museum in Guangzhou. Image via Facebook.

On August 17, the Guangdong Times Museum announced on its WeChat channel that it will be closing on October 9 following the end of its current exhibition, “River Pulses, Border Flows.” The museum attributes the cause of its closure to China’s economic downturn, brought about by the country’s strict Covid regulations. Despite its team now being reduced to deputy director and chief curator Nikita Yingqian Cai, director Zhao Qie, and administrative director Liu Qian, it is currently working with the hopes of reopening in 2023 on a smaller scale.

Formerly a joint venture between property developer Times China and the state-owned Guangdong Museum of Art, the Guangdong Times Museum was officially established as an independent nonprofit museum in December 2010 with the financial backing of Times China. Times China is one of many property companies that were forced to halt housing-construction projects due to Covid lockdowns. Caught between loan repayments and mortgage strikes, the closure of the Guangdong Times Museum was Times China’s response to the economic crisis. According to The Art Newspaper, the seven museum employees being dismissed are currently negotiating with the property developer’s human-resources team for their severance compensation, as there was insufficient cash flow to make a one-off payment.

The museum’s 1,200-square-meter exhibition space, located on the 19th floor of a high-rise residential building, is set to close along with its 14th-floor offices. The café and event space on the first floor will stay open, and public programs are scheduled to run through November. Liang Jianhua, the museum’s curator from 2011 to 2022, will continue to independently operate HB Station, a ten-year-old space focused on education and research that the museum financially supported from 2012 to 2017.

Commended for its outstandingly meticulous curation and academic programming, the Guangdong Times Museum’s notable exhibitions include “Big Tail Elephant: One Hour, No Room, Five Shows” (2016), a retrospective of the Guangzhou-based artist group. It also facilitated the research network All the Way South, which included exchange programs and a research fund for artists. It is among China’s oldest and most prestigious private art museums, and was the first Chinese art institution to expand operations to the West with the establishment in 2018 of Times Art Center Berlin, which also had to shut its doors this June.

Jenna Chan is ArtAsiaPacific’s editorial intern.