CAFA Art Museum: Its History and Building

CAFA Art Museum

The History of CAFA Art Museum
The first specialized art museum built after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China

The history of CAFA Art Museum can be traced back to the early 1950s. Originally called the “Central Academy of Fine Arts Gallery,” the museum was located on the old CAFA site at Shuaifuyuan on Xiaowei Hutong in Beijing’s Wangfujing. Designed by noted architect Zhang Kaiji, the Gallery was the first specialized art museum built after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. In 1998, the Gallery’s name was changed to “CAFA Art Museum.”

In October 2008, the new museum building opened on the CAFA campus at No. 8 Huajiadi South Street in Beijing’s Chaoyang District, designed by noted Japanese architect Arata Isozaki. In late 2010, CAFA Art Museum was named in the first list of Key National Museums. Past museum directors have included Dong Xiwen, Yang Yun, Sun Zixi, Jiao Kequn, Wang Xiao, Tang Pei, Pan Gongkai, and Wang Huangsheng. The current director is Zhang Zikang.

The Building
Discover the new building for CAFAM

The new building for the CAFA Art Museum was designed by noted Japanese architect Arata Isozaki. This is the architect’s first museum design in China.

The museum has a floor area of 3,546 square meters and covers a total of 14,777 square meters.

The museum is located on a curved site. The exterior stone walls and the curved roof gradually meet to form a shell shaped like a rounded boomerang.

Large glass walls at the entrance and exit add to the transparency of the building while also meeting lighting needs.

The grey-green stone plates on the exterior of the museum coordinate with the grey bricks of the other buildings on the Central Academy of Fine Arts campus, finding unity within difference.

The museum is 24 meters high, with a total of six levels—four above ground and two below ground.

The two floors below ground contain the offices, storage, and restoration rooms.

The first floor provides a large public space for visitors, with a café, a multi-functional meeting room, and an auditorium that can accommodate 380 people.

The second floor is a relatively closed space, lit entirely by artificial light to avoid damaging artworks with UV light from the sun.

The space is illuminated with Erco lights from Germany, and granite was used as the flooring to resolve light reflections. There are also glass display cases on this level, providing the ideal secure space for the exhibition of artistic treasures.

The highest point in the ceiling on the third floor is 11 meters high, with a vast interior space free of pillars.

Natural light illuminates the space which, in conjunction with the fourth-floor space, these halls can accommodate artworks in a range of sizes.

The Groundbreaking Ceremony

Groundbreaking ceremony: Architect Arata Isozaki (middle) and former CAFA president Pan Gongkai (right)

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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