A contemporary revolution has taken hold in Beijing, with a burgeoning art scene and cutting-edge architecture in the city’s 798 Art Zone. Built in the 1950s as part of a Chinese-East German collaboration, the enormous complex designed by Bauhaus architects once housed up to 20,000 workers. Also known as Dashanzi Art District, this former factory precinct is now home to some of China’s most prestigious up-and-coming artists and designers.
Meet your guide, a Beijing scholar, at the enormous complex that is redefining the city's urban scene. Much of the energy in the Chinese art world revolves around this abandoned military factory on the city's northeastern edge, replete with exhibition spaces and art zones brimming with energy.
During your 3-hour walking tour, you’ll dive into the center of the complex, where your guide immerses your small group in a number of post-industrial gallery spaces enlivened with painting, sculpture and performance. You’ll follow a different course on foot through the maze of buildings, depending on the day!
At the 798 Art Zone you will find the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, a non-profit gallery that presents exhibitions of both established and emerging Chinese artists. Take time to wander through the different installations and galleries, viewing art by Huang Ri, Xu Yong and the controversial Ai Weiwei, who built an art compound on the outskirts of 798. Your scholar-guide will help contextualize the material you see within an overall discussion of Beijing’s art scene during the past decade or more.
Complete your tour at one of the many cafés or restaurants located throughout 798, where you’ll be left to explore more halls on your own, armed with a basic understanding of the Chinese contemporary art world in Beijing.