UCCA was founded in 2007 by Guy and Myriam Ullens as the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art. In 2017, it evolved into the UCCA Group, under the ownership and stewardship of a new group of patrons and shareholders. 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.
The historical core of UCCA Group is UCCA Beijing, housed in the former factory chambers of 798 Art District, and now an accredited museum licensed by the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture to present exhibitions and programs with leading Chinese and global artists and institutions. UCCA Beijing operates as a “private non-enterprise unit” under Chinese law, and is wholly owned by UCCA Group. Separately, UCCA Group holds ancillary entities, some of which are run on a for-profit basis. These include: UCCA Kids, an arts-education business; UCCA Store, covering retailing affiliated with artists and exhibitions; and UCCA Lab, which produces collaborative content with commercial brands. UCCA is also actively expanding its presence throughout China in collaboration with outside partners, beginning with the opening of UCCA Dune in Aranya, Beidaihe, in 2018. A new UCCA museum in Shanghai will open in early 2021.
The structure of UCCA Group reflects current best practices in China, combined with the vision of our board to build a modern, sustainable organization best suited for long-term growth and viability, as we undertake the critical mission of being the premier contemporary art institution in China. In all its efforts, UCCA endeavors to bring China into global dialogue through contemporary art.
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 continues its founding mission of improving lives, and promoting cultural exchange, 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 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 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 exhibition program, most recently through 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 “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.
Revitalized in its second decade by a new governance structure, the opening of UCCA Dune, and the architectural regeneration of its flagship Beijing space, UCCA remains steadfast in its commitment to 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. Selections are available here.
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. 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.
Chief Operating Officer, UCCA Group
Windy Zhu is Chief Operating Officer for UCCA Group. She joined UCCA in 2018, and is responsible for operations, visitor experience, and the integration and continual elevation of UCCA’s brand and marketing power. She leads the development and expansion UCCA Group’s commercial units, including UCCA Kids, UCCA Store, and UCCA Lab. Zhu has more than 14 years experience in brand positioning, branding tactics, 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
Director, UCCA Lab
You Yang has over ten years of experience related to art institutions, and has been with UCCA since 2011. Keenly interested in the development of and intersection between urban and consumer culture, his previous roles have included museum manager, columnist, curator, lecturer, public relations and marketing expert, and more. Having run various UCCA teams including public relations, public programs, and retail, he has since grown the special projects department into UCCA Lab, a new division of the UCCA Group focused on commercial collaborations and new kinds of exhibitions in urban spaces. He has curated several large-scale exhibitions, including “Juqi” (2012, Lijiang), “New Order: Altermondialisme” (2016, Sanya), and “Mirroring: Aegean Place Public Art Project” (Shanghai, 2017). Prior to joining UCCA, You Yang was the marketing director of the Chinese-language version of Time Out Beijing and the deputy general manager of the China International Gallery Exposition (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.