A New Museum Rises in Shanghai

JJYPHOTO in courtesy of Yuz Museum Shanghai

Billionaire art collector Budi Tek opens his new Yuz Museum Shanghai in China’s largest city.

Private museums have become the billionaire collector’s solution to owning too much art to display at home. The Chinese Indonesian collector Budi Tek, who made his fortune in the food industry, is certainly part of the elite trend, thanks to his Yuz Museum Shanghai (No. 35 Fenggu Rd.; yuzmshanghai.org), which opened on May 17. Designed by the Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, the Yuz—a roughly 97,000-square-foot converted airplane hangar—debuts with an exhibition called “Myth/History” (through November 18), which features a hundred selections from the collection of Tek’s Yuz Foundation.

Tek opened the institution because his original private museum, located at his home in Jakarta and established in 2008, simply wasn’t large enough anymore. “When you start to collect big installations, video works, you know you need something more,” he explained in March while in New York to participate in an art seminar at the Armory Show.

Adel Abdessemed’s huge installation Like Mother, Like Son (pictured above), which comprises three airplanes artfully intertwined, stands at the center of the Yuz. Tek also owns Maurizio Cattelan’s Untitled (Live Olive Tree), which sits in a vast square of dirt (a version was shown at the artist’s Guggenheim retrospective in 2011), and the outsized copper Buddha’s Hand by Zhang Huan.

As for how many works he owns in total, Tek confirms that the number is well more than a thousand but adds with a smile, “not thousands with an ‘s’ on the end.” It’s an accomplishment that’s even more remarkable considering he discovered his passion for art just a decade ago. “I collect a lot of historical Chinese work from the 1980s and ’90s,” he says, meaning before the current art boom took off. In addition to pieces by Ai Weiwei and Zhang Xiaogang, he owns work by Western artists Anselm Kiefer, Fred Sandback and Michaël Borremans.

Building Shanghai’s Artistic Legacy

Personal artwork aside, Tek seems particularly excited about the Yuz’s location along the Xuhui waterfront in the West Bund Cultural Corridor and its larger role in making Shanghai, China’s largest city, an art capital. “I was the first one who committed to this cultural area,” he says of the government-designated district less than half an hour from downtown. It includes the Long Museum West Bund (thelongmuseum.org), which opened earlier this year, and DreamWorks SKG is building a studio and theme park there.

“Shanghai developed slowly,” says local artist Zhou Tiehai, one of Tek’s close friends, “but today we have more than ten museums [of contemporary and modern art], and in Beijing only one or two.” That roster includes the Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai (mocashanghai.org), the China Art Palace (World Expo Park, 161 Shangnan Lu; 86-21/6222-8822) and the Power Station of Art (powerstationofart.org). It’s a critical mass sure to add to the city’s tourism appeal, particularly since it was once considered an all-business destination. “Going forward I think Shanghai will be unstoppable,” says Tek. “It will be like New York.”