Quest for the Future: Constructing Identity in China’s Contemporary Art Museums

Curatorial Practice (MA) | Humanities & Sciences Division
Heller, JuliannaCuratorial Practice (MA) (2023)
Through the analysis of three Chinese museums’ architecture, design, and exhibitions,
this thesis examines the recent China Museum Boom and how contemporary art museums
undergird the Chinese state’s mission to construct a cosmopolitan identity. I analyze how
contemporary art museums, such as the Shenzhen Museum of Contemporary Art and Urban
Planning, establish a cultural identity for the city and the nation. I then navigate the tensions
between the government’s focus on promoting regional identity through the museum and the
international frameworks used by the museum, seen in the SUPER FUSION 2021 biennale at the
Chengdu Museum of Contemporary Art. Finally, I explore the Meixihu International Culture and
Arts Center in Changsha as the museum leverages the spectacle of deconstructivist architecture
to create a new visual language of Chinese power and success. This research is a crucial
undertaking for critically examining museological and institutional constructions of identity in



  • Owner: Julianna Heller
  • Collection: Curatorial Practice (MA) Program
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