Whilst we've already introduced a number of Kunming art museums, there is still one that is very much worthy of a mention.
Wenlin Art Museum (文林美术馆) is rather unique in that, unlike the city's other museums, it is more a community project than a business. Free of charge to visit, the museum encourages the connection between local neighborhood residents and artists. Even better, it is the only such venue downtown that is open to visitors in the evenings.
The museum was founded by well-known Chinese artist Jiang Liping (蒋丽萍) and her family who continue to fund the venue themselves, meaning that there is no entrance charge. Jiang's son, Bao Lisi (包理斯), is now the museum manager.
The museum can be found tucked underground at 93 Wenlin Street (文林街), housed in a renovated former cinema warehouse. This is a lively location close to Green Lake Park, Qianju Jie (钱局街) and Wenhua Alley (文化巷), a popular neighborhood for foreigners and locals alike.
The museum features a number of different themed areas and is known for its focus on the artists of Kunming and Yunnan Province in particular. It officially opened in March 2016 with an exhibition of young painters from the Kunming Landscape Painting Society, showcasing the venue's strong support of promising young talent in the region and commitment to ensuring it is accessible to local residents.
Just below the entrance lies a special corridor that is dedicated exclusively to exhibiting the pieces of local artists and providing additional income to them through the sale of their work.
Another notable aspect of the museum is its long-term relationship with the Consulate General of France in Chengdu. Together, the museum and consulate have arranged two influential exhibitions: 'Baudouin Mouanda Photographic Artworks Exhibition - Les Sapeurs de Bacongo' and 'Lam Et Les Poètes', an exhibition of paintings.
Subsequently, the two have maintained a close working relationship over the years especially during the annual 'Festival Croisements', which celebrates artistic contacts between France and China.
During 2016 and 2017, Wenlin Art Museum and the Italian Benetton Academic Research Foundation jointly hosted 'Image World · Contemporary China' here, which featured over 1,000 art works from 10 different countries and regions and was visited by tens of thousands of art lovers.
The museum is also a popular partner for institutions that focus on young artists. Each year exhibitions of artworks created by children and teenagers are held here in collaboration with various art schools around the country.
Acting as a dynamic and professional launchpad for young local artists from Yunnan, Wenlin Art Museum is very much worthy of a visit for anyone who is exploring this intriguing corner of central Kunming.
Photos by Martin Li