Traveler’s Guide To The 798 Art District in Beijing
Every trip to Beijing definitely includes the top attractions like the Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China, the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace. However, there is an area of Beijing that might be the most underrated tourist destination in the city: the 798 Art District. This wonderful hidden gem offers you a unique insight into modern China, which is more than enough reason to include it to your Beijing itinerary!
798 Art District in Beijing Overview
The 798 Art District in Beijing lies in the northeast of the city, in the direction of Beijing International Airport. The art zone received its unique name from the 798 Bauhaus style factory built in the 1950s by North China Wireless Joint Equipment. After they abandoned the factory in the 2000s, artists, architects and designers were attracted by the unique style of the building and found their creative paradise in this area. Today, the 798 Art District in Beijing is a flourishing, modern area with countless independent art galleries, shops, and artsy cafés and restaurants.
How to Get to the 798 Art District
As the Beijing art district isn’t the most accessible area of the city, it’s best to take a taxi there. Cars can’t drive into the complex, so just hop out at the red 798 gate and start your exploration from there. Pick up a map at the information center near Block E as you enter from Jiuxianqiao Road.
Things to Keep in Mind: The art zone gets very busy on weekends and most of the galleries are closed on Mondays.
Download the 798 App!
Before you head to Beijing’s art district, I highly recommend downloading the 798 Art Zone app called 798arts. It offers a detailed guide to the whole area complete with GPS navigation. Besides Chinese, the app also comes in English, which isn’t always the case with Chinese apps so this is a huge plus.
Must-see places at 798 Art District in Beijing
There are five main blocks to explore (A through to E) filled with local art expressed through a variety of mediums. You can see anything here – from classical paintings and sculptures to modern performance art and innovative digital art installations.
Gigantic Panoramic Map Mural
A good place to start is this large-scale panoramic mural that was commission by Hyundai. It was created by Drawing Architecture Studio and depicts the whole area of the 798 Art Zone in Beijing. The mural is 14.5 meters wide and 12.7 meters high.
Project 2×4, Hyundai Motorstudio Beijing
The mural mentioned above is part of Project 2×4 by Hyundai Motorstudio, a living ecology of the technology companies most impressive inventions and innovations. You can find an informative display of things like passive air purification, vegetation and geothermal heating and cooling to exhibitions, programming, and a café. The purpose of this space is to showcase the ways architecture and design impact our environment and quality of life.
No. 84 Xin An Li Hu Tong Dongcheng District, Beijing, China
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 09:00-21:00
UCCA (Ullens Center for Contemporary Art)
UCCA is a great starting point for your tour of the 798 Art District in Beijing. This international contemporary art institute was opened in 2007 and regularly hold various exhibitions by both Chinese artists and significant figures in the international art scene. Besides the over 100 exhibitions UCCA has put on since its founding, the organization also puts great importance on education and regularly holds informative talks, workshops and art cinema. UCCA also has a large bookstore with limited editions of cutting-edge artists and designers on the shelves.
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 10:00-19:00 (Last entry 18:30)
798 Space (798 时态空间)
This space is where it all began. Once a factory that produced weapons, 798 Space became the first art space in this area and the namegiver for the 798 Art District in Beijing. Today, this space holds art exhibitions and high couture product launches that draw crowds from near and far.
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 11:00-21:00
Galleria Continua (常青画廊)
If you are looking for fine contemporary art from Italy and other parts of the world, Galleria Continua is the top address in Beijing. This giant three-story building is located in the heart of the 798 Art District in Beijing and a huge name in the international art industry.
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 11:00-18:00
Beijing Commune (北京公社)
Beijing Commune was established by Leng Lin, an international curator, and a mainstay on the arts scene. If you are interested in state-of-the-art shows of the avant-garde in all mediums, this is the place to go.
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 11:00-19:00
Pace was founded by Arne Glimcher in Boston in 1960. Today, Pace has several leading contemporary art galleries around the world, one of which is located in the 798 Art District in Beijing. Over the past decades, Pace has introduced many new artists to the public for the first time. If you are looking for both renowned artworks and fresh faces in the art world, this gallery will not disappoint.
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 11:00-19:00
North Korean Mansudae Art Studio
One of my personal highlights of Beijing’s art district is the Pinacotheca of Korean Mansudae Art Studio. This space offers an opportunity to get a glimpse of North Korean art, as it is the only overseas gallery founded by the North Korean government. The gallery features North Korean artworks, mostly handpainted propaganda paintings and posters that decorate the streets of Pyongyang and all of North Korea.
Opening Hours: Tue-Sun 10:00-17:30
Faurschou Foundation Beijing
While you might not be familiar with the Faurschou Foundation, the name Yoko Ono will certainly ring a bell. Thanks to an elaborate solo show by Yoko Ono, called “Golden Ladders”, Faurschou became known to a wider group of art lovers in Beijing. The Foundation is privately owned and has two venues in Beijing and Copenhagen. You can also find solo exhibitions of Ai Weiwei and Cai Guoqiang at this intriguing gallery.
Opening Hours: Tue-Sun 10:00-18:00 (Closed on public holidays)
More Impressions from the 798 Art Zone in Beijing
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