Handbooks of Research on Contemporary China series
Edited by Michael Keane
Chapter 13: Cultural organizations in China: creating digital platforms for success
The construction of cultural facilities in China is taking place on an unprecedented scale. As a result of urban planning and urban regeneration strategies, clusters of galleries, museums, theatres and performing arts centres have mushroomed in a short frame of time. In comparison, arts and cultural clusters of the same scale in Europe, such as London’s West End, took centuries to form. The sheer scale and speed of theatre, museum and cultural tourism has surprised the world. Every year approximately 100 museums are built in China. In 2011, the number of newly constructed museums was 386, or approximately one every day. By way of contrast, the peak of the museum construction in the US occurred in the mid-1990s. However, even in the heyday, the US only added between 20 to 40 museums each year. Guo Xiaoling, the curator of the Capital Museum in Beijing believes there is a long way to go if China is to be regarded as a ‘strong cultural power’ (wenhua qiangguo). He says that China needs at least 43,000 more museums before it catches up with the world standard, that is, 21 times the current number.
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