China's wealthy patrons like Mr. Lu's family are underwriting a major cultural boom, spending billions of yuan on grand buildings to showcase impressive collections of art, antiques and other cultural rarities. Their largesse and ambitions echo American industrialists who sponsored the arts in the early years of the 20th century... — online.wsj.com
Recently in The Wall Street Journal, reporter Jason Chow interviewed real-estate developer Lu Jun and his son Lu Xun who finally opened the Sifang Art Museum for its first exhibition this past weekend in Nanjing, China after 10 years of construction.
Spearheaded by Lu Jun and curated by architects Liu Jiakun and Arato Isozaki, the $164 million project consists of 11 mixed-use buildings designed by an international mix of well-known architects including Wang Shu, SANAA, David Adjaye, Mathias Klotz, Steven Holl, and artist Ai Weiwei (the only non-architect). Three more buildings are expected to be completed within the next year.
During a rising cultural trend of private museums owned by China's wealthiest patrons, Lu Jun, his son, and some of the museum's architects describe the doubts, challenges, and hopes in the construction and operation of the ambitious project.
Photos by Qilai Shen. "Light Box" photo courtesy of Jason Chow.