People at ShanghART art gallery, Moganshan Road, Shanghai, China, Asia

Getty Images/LOOK


Top choice in Shanghai

Shanghai may be known for its glitz and glamour, but it's got an edgy subculture too. The industrial M50 art complex is one prime example, where galleries have set up in disused factories and cotton mills, utilising the vast space to showcase emerging and established contemporary artists. There's a lot to see, so plan to spend half a day poking around the site.

The most established galleries here include ShanghART with a big, dramatic space showcasing the work of some of the dozens of artists it represents. The forward-thinking, provocative and downright entertaining island6 focuses on collaborative works created in a studio behind the gallery. Budding photographers should absolutely pop into DN Club, with its classes using vintage SLRs and a dark room for developing prints.

Most galleries are open from 10am to 6pm, with the majority closed Mondays.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Shanghai attractions

1. island6

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One of the M50 art precinct's most creative, thought-provoking, interactive and engaging galleries is island6. Artist Liu Dao showcases his work and that…

2. Pata Gallery

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Gallery in the M50 complex featuring a range of Chinese works from traditional Taiwanese painters and Chinese artists overseas to contemporary works.

3. OFoto

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Peruse China-related photography exhibitions at this gallery in the M50 complex.

4. Antenna Space

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Take the pulse of China's avant-garde art scene, with a focus on new media works.

5. Chronus Art Center

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A vast gallery space that focuses on experimental art and installations from Shanghai artists and beyond.

6. ShanghART

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An original M50 gallery and one of Shanghai's first contemporary art spaces, ShanghART is still going strong 20 years on.

7. Shanghai Textile Museum

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The sort of place visitors were taken to in the 1980s, this textile museum is very much a healthy dose of propaganda to promote patriotism through…

8. Jade Buddha Temple

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One of Shanghai’s few active Buddhist monasteries, this temple was built between 1918 and 1928. The highlight is a transcendent Buddha crafted from pure…