Although my trip to Shanghai was only for a mere two days, I made it a point to visit at least one museum during my stay. After much deliberation, I decided that architecturally, Long Museum West Bund stood out the most. Because my time was limited and I had a long list of places I want to go, I decided to forgo the exhibitions, which I would undoubtedly linger hours at, to stop to admire the actual architecture of the museum.
I’m going to be honest here. Before I went, I knew absolutely nothing about Long Museum West Bund except that it was a large-scale concrete structure that was absolutely stunning for photographs. I knew this because I am an avid Instagram stalker. No shame. But after the visit, I so was amazed by the structure and the rawness of the surfaces I actually went to find out the design behind it.
Read on to find out why you must visit Long Museum West Bund.
Long Museum West Bund opened on the 28th March 2014 and is the second of the two museums founded by Liu Yiqian and his wife Wang Wei; the first Long Museum is located in Pudong. Together, the institutions make up the largest private collection in China.
Liu and Wang are billionaire art collectors who have gathered traditional and contemporary art of both Chinese and European origin. The types of exhibitions held in Long Museum Pudong and Long Museum West Bund are chosen carefully with the aim to promote cultural education to the public in mind.
Architect Liu Yichun of Shanghai firm Atelier Deshaus definitely did something right when he, along with his team, designed Long Museum West Bund. It was one of the shortlisted projects for the Design Museum’s 2015 Designs of the Year awards. It’s no wonder the site is such a magnet for photographers.
The site has a rich history from the 1950s as a wharf for coal transportation. Liu planned his project with this knowledge in mind to create a contemporary space that references the previous uses.
He does this by welcoming the original coal hopper unloading bridge into the design of Long Museum West Bund. The final plan celebrates the bridge, the most eminent piece left over from the wharf, by using its tunnel-like structure to frame the entrance for visitors.
The most notable aspect of the museum is the umbrella vaulted structure built with faced concrete. It creates a direct contrast between rough and smooth textures with the old coal hopper unloading bridge by its side.
This vaulted umbrella element is repeated multiple times throughout Long Museum West Bund and all of the individual vaults are lined up with the structural grid of the building, some cantilevering to the roof and some framing exhibition spaces. In order to hold the building up, shear walls in the basement are concreted into the same structural grid.
There are three storeys within the main part of the building. The programs are distributed as such: the ground and first floor are devoted to contemporary art galleries, while the basement also includes traditional exhibitions.
What stands out about Long Museum West Bund is its functional design to embrace openness. Rather than having the typically closed structure of many museums, the public is welcome to a restaurant, a public courtyard, a concert hall and more. There is also a carpark located in the basement that accommodates over 300 cars so the museum is easily accessible.
Reasons to Visit
For lovers of all things concrete like me, do I even need to spell out why you must visit Long Museum West Bund? If you’re only on a short trip to Shanghai and only have time for one museum, I highly recommend Long Museum West Bund. Make it a point to get to this location instead of its sister in Pudong and prepare to be wow’ed by the incredible raw structures before you even pay a dime – a Yuan, sorry – to get into the exhibitions. Like I said, an art lover can easily spend the whole day here.
Make your friends jealous with your gorgeous photos. Boast about seeing the latest art collection inside the museum. I guarantee you’ll look cultured and smart. 😉
How to get there
Long Museum West Bund is easily accessible by private car, bus or metro. Stop at Yunjing Road and Houma Road Station of the No. 1222 Route if you’re taking the bus. Jason and I kept it simple and took the metro. We got off at Middle Longhua Road Station on Line 7 and took Exit No. 6. Remember to have Baidu Maps or Google Maps ready, because it is a long walk!
Long Museum West Bund
Lane 3398, Longteng Avenue, Xuhui District, Shanghai
+021 6422 7636
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