UCCA Center for Contemporary Art is China’s leading contemporary art institution. Committed to the belief that art can deepen lives and transcend boundaries, UCCA presents a wide range of exhibitions, public programs, and research initiatives to a public of more than one million visitors each year across three locations. UCCA Beijing sits at the heart of the 798 Art District, occupying 10,000 square meters of factory chambers built in 1957 and regenerated in 2019 by OMA. UCCA Dune, designed by Open Architecture, lies beneath the sand in the seaside enclave of Aranya in Beidaihe. UCCA Edge, designed by New York-based architecture firm SO – IL, opened in Shanghai in May 2021.
UCCA was founded as Ullens Center for Contemporary Art by collectors Guy and Myriam Ullens, and opened in 2007. In 2017, it transitioned to the stewardship of a dedicated group of new Chinese and international patrons and shareholders. Now officially known as UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, it remains committed to its mission of bringing the best in art to a wider audience, drawing China into the global cultural conversation through art.
UCCA Beijing is housed in factory chambers built in the 1950s and designed by East German architects of the Dessau Design Institute, the postwar successor to the Bauhaus Dessau. These buildings maintain traces of their industrial past. The spaces were fully renovated by architects Jean-Michel Wilmotte and Qingyun Ma in 2007, and underwent a further regeneration designed by OMA and completed in 2019. With a total area of over 10,000 square meters, it spreads across three buildings and includes the signature Great Hall, further galleries, public spaces, an auditorium, and spaces for events, education, and research.
Since its founding, UCCA has presented more than 140 exhibitions. The opening exhibition “’85 New Wave: The Birth of Chinese Contemporary Art” (2007), curated by founding artistic director Fei Dawei, is regarded as the first institutional attempt to present a history of the Chinese avant-garde in the PRC. Subsequent shows have continued to demarcate generations, including “Breaking Forecast: 8 Key Figures of China’s New Generation Artists” (2009), “ON | OFF: China’s Young Artists in Concept and Practice” (2013), “Hans van Dijk: 5000 Names” (2014), and “The New Normal: Art, China, and 2017.” UCCA’s exhibition program is also known for the solo surveys and retrospectives it has granted to key figures in the ongoing history of advanced art in China, including Geng Jianyi, Cao Fei, Xu Bing, Xie Nanxing, Zhao Bandi, Hao Liang, Zeng Fanzhi, Wang Yin, Liu Wei, Zhao Gang, Xu Zhen, Ji Dachun, Wang Keping, Wang Xingwei, Kan Xuan, Yung-ho Chang, Yun-fei Ji, Gu Dexin, Zhan Wang, Wang Jianwei, Liu Jianhua, Liu Xiaodong, Yu Hong, Zhang Huan, Song Dong, Yin Xiuzhen, Chen Wenbo, Yan Lei, Yan Pei-Ming, Qiu Zhijie, and Huang Yong Ping, among others.
UCCA has also mounted major exhibitions with international artists including Maurizio Cattelan, Thomas Demand, Daniel Arsham, Elizabeth Peyton, Matthew Barney, Sarah Morris, Robert Rauschenberg, John Gerrard, Elmgreen & Dragset, Peter Wayne Lewis, Haegue Yang, David Diao, Korakrit Arunanondchai, William Kentridge, Lee Mingwei, Ming Wong, Pawel Althamer, Taryn Simon, Tehching Hsieh, Tino Sehgal, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Tatsuo Miyashima, Walead Beshty, Olafur Eliasson, Not Vital, Kehinde Wiley, Mona Hatoum, and Lawrence Weiner. Through these exhibitions and related programs, UCCA has built vital links between China’s art scene and the wider world, and exposed audiences to figures they may not otherwise have had the chance to encounter directly.
A commitment to emerging artists throughout China has long been a core thread in UCCA’s curatorial program, most recently through first institutional solo shows for artists including Zhang Ruyi (2022) and Wang Tuo (2021), and earlier in the “New Sites” series of lecture performances (2019), the “New Directions” series of exhibitions (2015-2019), and the “Curated by…” series of exhibitions (2009-2011). Further exhibitions have explored related areas of visual culture including photography, architecture, and design. UCCA frequently collaborates with leading international institutions to stage major exhibitions outside of Beijing or even China, furthering its mission of presenting Chinese contemporary art in a global context. Notable examples include the Diriyah Biennale (2022), Saudi Arabia’s first contemporary art biennale,“Bentu, Chinese artists in a time of turbulence and transformation” (Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, 2016) and “Cao Fei: A Hollow in a World Too Full” (Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong, 2018).
UCCA underwent a major transition in 2016 and 2017, as the founders transferred ownership to a new group of patrons and shareholders. As part of this process, UCCA evolved from a single organization housing a wide range of functions into the UCCA Group. UCCA Center for Contemporary Art is the core entity of this group, and is now registered as a museum in China. UCCA Foundation for Art and Education was also established to support research and outreach initiatives and is accredited by the Beijing Bureau of Civil Affairs. Meanwhile, UCCA Store, UCCA Kids, and UCCA Lab were incorporated as discrete companies belonging to UCCA Group.
In October 2018, the institution opened a second exhibition space, UCCA Dune, in Beidaihe, along the coast of the Bohai Sea a few hours travel from Beijing. Located in the seaside Aranya Gold Coast Community and designed by Open Architecture, the museum is nestled beneath a sand dune. Since its inaugural exhibition “After Nature,” UCCA Dune has hosted an exhibition program specifically informed by its meditative setting, emphasizing the relationship between art, humanity, and the natural world.
Opened in May 2021, UCCA Edge occupies 5,500 square meters over three levels of the new EDGE tower in Shanghai’s Jing’an District. Designed by New York- based architects SO – IL, the museum includes 1,700 square meters of gallery space as well as a wraparound outdoor terrace and public spaces including a lobby and auditorium. As an integral part of the UCCA constellation, UCCA Edge mounts exhibitions of leading Chinese and international artists, some developed exclusively for the Shanghai audience, some touring from other UCCA locations. Situated just north of People’s Square and Suzhou Creek, and directly above the Qufu Lu station of the Shanghai Metro in a bustling revitalized neighborhood, UCCA Edge has already become an essential destination and an integral part of Shanghai’s vibrant cultural fabric.
Revitalized in its second decade by a new governance structure, the opening of UCCA Dune and UCCA Edge, and the architectural regeneration of its flagship Beijing space, UCCA remains steadfast in its commitment to bringing the best in art to a wider audience, deepening lives and promoting intercultural exchange through contemporary art.
UCCA and its activities have received extensive press coverage from leading art, news, culture, and lifestyle publications.
Director, UCCA Center for Contemporary Art
CEO, UCCA Group
Since coming to UCCA in 2011, Philip Tinari has led its transformation from a founder-owned private museum into an accredited museum across multiple locations, a public foundation, and a family of art-driven enterprises. During his tenure, UCCA has mounted more than seventy exhibitions and thousands of public programs, bringing artistic voices established and emerging, Chinese and international, to an audience of over a million visitors each year. From 2009 to 2012 he founded and edited LEAP, the first internationally distributed, bilingual magazine of contemporary art in China. He is a contributing editor of Artforum, and launched the magazine’s Chinese edition in 2008. Having written extensively on contemporary art in China, he was co-curator of the 2017 exhibition Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. In 2021 he led the curatorial team for Saudi Arabia’s first biennale of contemporary art, the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale. Based in Beijing since 2001 and fluent in Mandarin, Tinari is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and a fellow of the Public Intellectuals Program of the National Committee on US-China Relations. He holds degrees from Duke and Harvard.
Photo: Stefen Chow
Chief Commercial Officer, UCCA Group
Windy Zhu is Chief Commercial Officer for UCCA Group. Since joining UCCA in 2018, she has led the business strategy, development, and sustainable expansion of the group’s commercial units with contemporary art at its core, including UCCA Lab, an interdisciplinary platform under UCCA Group for new kinds of art-adjacent collaboration; UCCA Store, which develops original artistic and creative merchandising and long-term collaborations with experimentally-minded artists and designers; high-level domestic and global contemporary art intellectual property development under UCCA IP; and the diverse programming of immersive experience at the nexus of art and commerce at UCCA Edge BD. Windy has more than sixteen years of experience in brand positioning, branding strategy, integrated marketing, multi-disciplinary collaborations, and marketing management. She has previously worked at Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo, where she was responsible for brand development, marketing, and sales.
Deputy Director, UCCA Center for Contemporary Art
Art Director, UCCA Group
You Yang, deputy director of UCCA Center for Contemporary Art and art director of UCCA Group, has over ten years of experience related to art institutions and has been with UCCA since 2011. He holds a PhD in Art Theory. You Yang has previously run various UCCA teams including Public Programs (today Public Practice), Public Relations (today Communications), Development, Visitor Experience, Retail (today UCCA Store), and UCCA Foundation. Since then, he has grown the Special Programs Department into UCCA Lab. Keenly interested in the development of and intersection between urban and consumer culture, You Yang is dedicated to exploring the thought and theory behind contemporary art museums, and has initiated research projects, public art projects, and governmental collaborations in the cultural sphere. Based on his practice and research in this field, he has published over 100 essays in periodicals, academic journals, catalogues, and more. He currently serves as a member of 798 Art District’s expert committee, and as a researcher at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts’ Institute of New Art Museum Studies. He is a strong supporter of and participant in art charity programs throughout China.
In recent years, he has curated exhibitions and projects including the main exhibitions at the 798 Art Festival (Beijing, 2018-2020); the public art project “Form | Impression” (Gallery Weekend Beijing, 2020); “Voluntary Garden” (UCCA Beijing, 2020); “Sonic Cure” Online Concert Series (Kuaishou, 2020); “The Circulation of Images” (Voyage UCCA Lab, Shanghai, 2021); “Gaetano Pesce: Nobody’s Perfect” (Voyage UCCA Lab, Shanghai, 2022); “Sound of the Cosmo” Special Section of 9th Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (Shenzhen, 2022-2023); “Shadows of Image: The Media, Systems, and Spaces of Contemporary Painting” (Xie Zilong Photography Museum, Changsha, 2023). Since 2019, You Yang has also curated a series of art projects focusing on the growth of online platforms, which feature live performances by artists and discuss how online media-based practices may expand the boundaries of art and its audiences.on (CIGE), the first large-scale contemporary art fair in China. He has also served as Asia consultant for the ART ASIA art fair and consultant for Hyundai Motorstudio, among others.