Beijing, 798 Art Zone. In a former military factory complex old 50 years, called originally the Dashanzi factory, takes place the art district. The factory was built in the fifties and designed by the East German architects of the Dessau Design Institute. The buildings twist and turn within alleys of the complex known as 718 Joint Factory to the UCCA Center of Contemporary Art. In 1995 the Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), was looking for a storage and workshop space and found its place in this part of the city. Since 2003 an artistic community of over 30 artists, designers and publishers has developed. This was the starting point of a district of art and creativity, full of galleries and museums.
The UCCA Center for Contemporary Art was set up in one of the largest building of the complex. The spaces were fully renovated by the architects Jean-Michel Wilmotte and Quingyun Ma in 2007 and underwent a further regeneration designed by OMA and completed in 2019. The museum was one of China’s first private museums for contemporary art, founded in 2007, with the aim to bring Chinese art into the global dialogue. The reconstruction and renovation seek to give to the internationally renowned institution a public image and a visual identity. To connect with the public, the renovation features a curvilinear glass facade, wrapping around the museum store, entrance and café on the ground floor.
The UCCA Store in this panorama tries to bring distinct, cutting – edge objects into people life. Surrounded by the glass wall, it offers visibility even from the outside, to the range of activities that happen inside, with events such as celebrity books club, branding events and artistic workshops. An inside-out experience, that doesn’t only stay inside the museum’s venue. The museum shop is a part of the museum experience. It sells merchandise inspired on exhibitions and celebrates art through products. Split into two floors, the ground floor is dedicated to the merchandising, but also to the limited-edition artworks, that let the visitors bring a piece of art directly at home.
The shop is divided into four main themes. The exhibition merchandise is based on the museum’s exhibitions and celebrating their art trough poster, notebooks and clothing. The limited-edition artworks are authorized and signed by the artist, in a limited number, packaged and come with a stamped certificate. UCCA Store is one of the first museum stores in China making limited edition artworks supported by the artists. This kind of products brings contemporary art closer to its audience, spreading art from the exhibition program to a tangible work for art for everybody, becoming an experience for old and new collectors. The bookstore, on the second floor of the store, works together with leading Chinese publisher and other industry professionals to curate a selection of books for curious readers.
There are exhibition’s catalogs produced by UCCA, starting from bilingual catalogs for international readers. The books in the store are divided into three categories: exhibitions catalogs, art and design books and a selection of lifestyle publications. The care on publications displayed wants to give, to the readers, a new way to see things and a creative and open ambiance to enjoy new books and ideas. Another part of the store is dedicated to global design where is located in a range of European and rising Chinese studios products. The selection includes home-ware, accessories and other products from international suppliers including Seletti and Freitag, along with Chinese brand as BLANK SCHOOL, Hard Candy and Yang House.
In the last few years, China has discovered major attention for contemporary art. Galleries like UCCA Center of Contemporary Art are crucial for the fruition and understanding of this kind of artistic production. Determinants for this kind of speech are the cultural venues like UCCA Store that let anybody, for different age and income, to bring home a real artwork, supporting a new generation of collectors and art lovers.