RAS Art Focus Group

Rockbund Art Museum

From the RAS Museum to the Rockbund Art Museum

Speaker: Art Historian Julie Chun

1:45 pm registration for a 2:00 pm start

In 1857, a group of American and British scholars came together to form the Shanghai Literary and Scientific Society. The Society’s first president was Dr. Elijah Bridgman, the first American missionary to China, who had a vision to establish a library, museum and journal. A year later, the Society became a branch of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland and was renamed the North China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. The original 2 storey RAS building was completed in 1871 on the present site of 20 Huqiu Road when the British government was able to grant the Society a parcel of land in 1868. From 1874 to 1930, the building housed a museum of mostly stuffed games donated by local sportsmen and a library with over 800 titles. The former building was demolished in 1930 and a new building in present form was commissioned from Palmer & Turner and opened on Feb. 23, 1933. By November 1933, the RAS building had a screening room on the ground floor, a library on the second and third floor and a museum with exhibition galleries on the fourth and fifth floor. The current building underwent a full renovation after it was acquired by the Rockbund Development Company in 2010 and renamed the Rockbund Art Museum for exhibitions of contemporary art.

RAS Art Convener and Art Historian Julie Chun will lead a discussion of the historical impact of the RAS China’s role in instituting the first modern art museum in China. This historical relevance will be examined as we explore the current exhibition by four emerging Asian artists nominated for the Hugo Boss Asia Art Award.

After the museum discussion, we will take a short five-minute walk to visit the newly re-established RAS library to discover how history has evolved while remaining constant.



RSVP: artgroup@royalasiaticsociety.org.cn