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Five years after the museum opened, Baitel is the first person to hold the position.

Shanghai's Modern Art Museum (MAM). Courtesy MAM.

Shanghai's Modern Art Museum (MAM) has named Shai Baitel its inaugural artistic director. It's been a long time coming for the 7,000 square-metre institution, which opened way back in 2016.

China has been building mega-museums along the banks of the Huangpu at a rapid clip but has often struggled to adequately staff them. The Power Station of Art, the Long Museum West Bund, the Yuz Museum, Tank Shanghai, and Centre Pompidou x West Bund Shanghai have all opened in the city in the past decade. Many have been converted from former industrial buildings, including MAM, previously the Lao Bai Du Coal Warehouse.

'MAM has had a soft opening and run for a few years and had (and still [has]) a few curators who originated exhibitions before I took on the position as the first artistic director,' Baitel told Ocula Magazine. 'It was the museum leadership's understanding of the ever changing nature of the audience that required a fresh, unique and different approach, so that MAM is led by an artistic vision that matches the growing younger generation of museum visitors, Gen Z and Generation Alpha. It is since Bob Dylan: Retrospectrum [in 2019] that the museum has presented its first experience based exhibition—and thereafter all the exhibitions will be based on the experience at their core.'

Shai Baitel. Courtesy Modern Art Museum, Shanghai.

Born in Israel, Baitel co-founded Mana Contemporary, a cultural centre in New Jersey with affiliate centres in Miami and Chicago. He has consulted for the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, among other institutions. He was also the guest curator for the Bob Dylan exhibition.

'My vision for MAM isn't simply to house a collection and present fine art,' Baitel said. 'Instead, MAM is a destination for culturally engaged audiences who can experience exhibitions conceived from their own viewpoint.'

The first exhibition to open under Shai's directorship is a duo show featuring British Neo-Pop artist Philip Colbert and Canadian street artist Trevor Andrew. Entitled Neo Golden Age, the exhibition continues until 14 March 2021.

Future exhibitions planned for the museum include presentations of Zaha Hadid and Andy Warhol, a DIOR photography exhibition, and a showcase of emerging Chinese artists entitled From Woodwork to WeChat. —[O]

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