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The Art Lovers Guide to Shanghai

Chinese art has fascinated the world since the ancient times and continues to marvel with Contemporary Art that has given the world a glimpse into modern Chinese thought and life. As artists such as Ai Weiwei have captured the world’s attention with art that puts himself at risk, urban dwellers in mega cities are also flocking to art museums and galleries as a way to view the world.

Today, mention art cities and you’d likely hear Shanghai as one of the great cultural hotspots in Asia. Curious? Make your way to the metropolis and discover art in the greatest museums and tiniest nooks and crannies. 

Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA)


Image Credit: Flickr

MoCA was the first independent non-profit contemporary art gallery in Shanghai and houses a diverse range of art in mixed media both from China and the international contemporary art community. Both emerging artists and established mid-career artists are exhibited here, as well as retrospectives of the grand dames of the fashion world.  

There are also collaborations with international museums to host larger exhibitions from around the world. The museum also runs educational seminars and workshops for both adults and children in efforts to promote contemporary art to the general public. After nourishing your soul with art, head to the rooftop restaurant to satiate your palette with great views and food.

Address: Nanjing Xi Lu, 1515 Nanjing W Rd, Jing'an, Shanghai, China, 200040

Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 10 am - 6 pm

Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre


Image Credit: Wikimedia

The Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre is a must-visit, whether you’re an art lover or not. This cosy museum in a residential apartment is dedicated to Chinese propaganda art from 1910 to 1990.  A truly unique museum and brainchild of Yang Pei Ming, the museum as set up in 2002 and started as merely one room. Today, it houses over 6000 posters and is a treasure trove of rare art from the Maoist era and especially the Cultural Revolution.

You can take home a piece of propaganda art with you from the gift shop, some of them are even originals! 

Address: 868 Huashan Rd, Xuhui, Shanghai, China

Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 10:00-17:00

M50 Neighborhood


Image Credit: Flickr

Take a walk around Shanghai’s M50 neighbourhood and get lost in the most artistic side of the city. A district dedicated to contemporary art, M50, also called Moganshan Lu, houses over 100 artist studios and galleries that are open to the public. Aside from art, there are also cafes and bars, as well as inspiring street art and impressive graffiti If you can only make time for one art space in Shanghai, M50 is the place to be.

ShanghART Gallery

Nestled within the M50 neighborhood is ShanghART Gallery, one of the first spaces dedicated to contemporary art in the city. It has since become one of the country’s major visual art institutions, and its expertise has led it to become one of the world’s most influential galleries.

ShanghART places emphasis on artists who live and work in Shanghai.  In addition to establishing long-term relationships with the city’s top artists, the gallery also promotes the works of up-and-coming artists.

Address: Building 16,50 Moganshan Rd, Putuo, Shanghai, China

Opening Hours: Mondays-Sundays 10am-6pm

Oriental Vista (OV) Gallery 

The OV Gallery is where you want to head to for avant-garde works.  Established in 2008, the gallery has been pushing the frontiers when it comes to exploring social issues that are a tad too provocative for the authorities.  OV exhibits works of both emerging and established artists from China as well as foreign artists residing in Shanghai.  

In addition to exhibitions, the gallery also conducts tours, organises art workshops and dialogues with artists and art experts. 

Address: Room 207, Building 4A, No. 50, Moganshan Lu, Shanghai, China 200020

Opening Hours: Tuesdays-Sundays 10.30am-6pm

Power Station of Art 


Image Credit: Wikimedia

This is a state-run art museum that was launched relatively recently in the year 2012. But don’t let the term ‘state-run’ have you thinking that this will be a dull drab. What was once an abandoned power plant (read: hipster) is now a powerhouse of Chinese contemporary art right on the banks of the Huangpu River. The Power Station was also the venue of the Shanghai Biennale. It isn’t smacked in the middle of downtown, but don’t let deter you from visiting. The museum has seven floors of art, great programs, and entry is free!

Address: 200 Huayuangang Rd, Huangpu, Shanghai, China

Opening Hours: Tuesdays-Sundays 11 am - 7 pm

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About the author

Tilda is a happy sufferer of chronic wanderlust. When she isn't spending a disproportionate amount of time Googling about places and cultures, she's writing, dancing, and navigating a massive career change. She shares stories and photography on Wanderful People, and shares her coffee with no one.


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