CHINA- If you ever decide on putting a bucket list for international art destinations, you certainly should not miss out on the Chinese art scene. For sure, the numerous galleries, the art factory villages and the fusion between the ancient and the post technological culture will add the spice you need for valuable artistic exposure.

Here is a list of the must-see art destinations during your stay in two Chinese cities, Beijing and Shenzhen:


Exterior view of the National Art Museum of China (

One of the largest art museums in China, the NAMOC not only exhibits ancient and contemporary Chinese artworks but also international and Western art. While known for its imperial collection, the museum is a stop for modern and contemporary Chinese Art.

Exterior view of The Palace Museum (image courtesy of Kanaan)

The Palace Museum, this is not only an architectural destination but is also home for a huge collection of traditional Chinese art that surpasses that of the country’s National Museum.  The Palace Museum is also known as ‘The Forbidden City’, given that no one was capable of entering or leaving the palace without the Emperor’s orders during the Ming and Qing dynasties. While the museum puts on shows for world famous collections at intervals, you can still learn about imperial life during the Ming and Qing dynasties.  

Exterior view of the CAFA (

The China Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) is a home for diverse genres combining both ancient and modern Chinese works, in addition to those of the Academy’s students. Your visit to CAFA will be a rich trip covering a wide range of Chinese oil paintings, prints, sculptures, folk art, embroidery, pottery and engravings.

Exterior view of the China National Academy of Painting (image courtesy of Kanaan)

If you’re looking for top Art schools in China, the China National Academy of Painting should certainly be the first on your list. With an art team composed of almost 300 scholars, master artists and educators; the academy is a platform for creation, education, research and cultural exchange. The school is integrated into institutes of Engraving, Sculpture, Fine Art Research, Public Art and Young Painters.  

Inside the Art Museum of Beijing Fine Art Academy (image courtesy of Kanaan)

Another destination for Chineses Art schools should be the Beijing Fine Art Academy. One of China’s oldest academies, this academy is where many notable modern Chinese painters have studied. Within the academy is also an art museum which showcases works by Qi Baishi, Xu Beihong and other prominent Chinese masters’ works.

Visit Chinese living Masters:

Wanjiyuan mural ‘1978’ at the artist’s home (image courtesy of Kanaan)

Although it might sound intimidating but in fact, famous Chinese artists are the most welcoming people you can meet. Not only will they welcome you into their studios, but will also give you tours around their homes, chat about their lives, their art and finally get really personal. You cannot help but be inspired by their simplicity. Wanjiyuan should definitely be an option; he happens to be the director of the Western Painting Division at the Shanghai Fine Arts School. Also, make sure to see his massive mural 1978 talking about his life, which he began 13 years ago and is still in progress.  


Small art gallery in Dafen (image courtesy of Kanaan)

‘The Oil Painting Village’, or the ‘World’s Art Factory’ is home for an estimated number of 10,000 artists and over 100 galleries. All you need to do is walk through the village streets and neighbourhoods to see all the genres of originals and copy works . A common phenomena about Dafen is that it was once the origin of 60 percent of all the world’s entire oil painting reproduction.

Guan Shanyue Art Museum front facade (

Named after master of Lingnan School, the museum highly focuses on Guan Shanyue’s work. As well, Shanyue happens to have dedicated  813 of his works to the city of Shenzhen. The museum also houses 20th century Chinese art and contemporary design that bridges both traditional and modern Chinese art. The significance of the Lingnan School is traced back to its revolutionary aspect, in comparison with traditional Chinese art, given that is was also influenced by the Western arts.

Exterior view of the He Xiangning Art Museum (

China’s second national modern art museum.  Although highly dedicated to artist He Xiangning’s art, the museum is constantly curating exhibitions which focus on technology, fashion, interactive installation and contemporary art. 

Finally, as this listicle covers the most important art stops that you must visit when staying in Beijing and Shenzhen, keep in mind that there is still an infinite number of other stops. Most importantly, Hong Kong and Shanghai should without a doubt be taken into consideration as cities to visit for art’s sake.

Read more from Yasmeen Kanaan.
All images courtesy indicated in captions.