Shanghai: M50 Art District and 1933 Old Millfun + other creative parks in Hongkou District.

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I will be introducing two art districts in Shanghai: M50 (莫干山路50号) and 1933 Old Millfun and other ‘creative parks’ in Hongkou District.

M50 art district just south of Suzhou Creek

M50 art district just south of Suzhou Creek

M50 Art District, 50 Moganshan Road Creative Park

M50 is the name of the complex that has become the Moganshan Road Art District in Shanghai. Formerly factories for textile industries, just south of Shanghai’s Suzhou Creek, has been turned into one of Shanghai’s premier locations for showcasing the city’s contemporary art movement.

Originally a textile mill called the Chunming Slub Mill, now abandoned. The art scene was founded there in 2000 by local artist Xue Song and soon thereafter prominent Shanghai artists including Ding Yi, Qu Fengguo, and Wang Xingwei followed. The galleries now thrive with a mix of established talent and up-and-coming contemporary artists, and almost all of the space is open to the visiting public.

What is at M50?

The taxi dropped us somewhere along a road and we walked in. It is actually quite a nice walk in with some graffiti along the way.

Graffiti near m50 art district

Graffiti near m50 art district

There are some sculptures spewed around M50 Art district but the amount is nothing like what you can find at Beijing’s 798 Art district.

M50 hosts galleries and art studios but the public spaces are increasingly being taken over by private graphic design firms.

There are some very interesting art galleries but it seems that a lot are temporary exhibits. Aside from galleries, there are hardly any F&B choices there. ​A few shops, perhaps. It seems there are many art related companies there so there are less and less galleries.

Frankly, if you have been to other art district like Xiamen’s Shapowei, Chongqing’s Zhongshan 4 Lu  and Testbed2, you may be disappointed with this with the amount of sculptures and art galleries available. Go only if you have the time.

Details for Getting There

  • Address: 50 Moganshan Road near Suzhou Creek. (莫干山路50号, 近苏州河)
  • Getting there: it’s best to take a taxi, since there are no subway stops nearby.

1933 Shanghai (Old Milfun), Old Commercial House 1913 (老洋行1913 ) and 1930 xinxin creative park (1930 鑫鑫创意园)

The 3 buildings are near to each other in Hongkou District. 1930 xinxin creative park is probably the most boring of the 3; it is just an office building. Old Commercial house 1913’s predecessor is actually “Hutchison Bank” from Britain. It is one of the many foreign financial and trading firms, which arrive in Shanghai since 1843.

The most interesting of the lot has to be 1933 Old Millfun. Built in 1933, the poured-concrete structures once housed the Shanghai Municipal Council Slaughterhouse, the largest slaughterhouse in Shanghai at the time.

What is at 1933 Shanghai (Old Millfun)?

The slaughterhouse was designed by Balfours, a famous English designer. European style and British style of the building is evident in the 1933 Old Millfun. Upon entering the building, it is as though you stepped into a time machine. There are beautiful English style “flower columns”. Criss-crossing bridges and stairs fills up the space above you. It is like a labyrinth made of concrete. I think perhaps kids will find lots of hiding spots in 1933 Old Millfun

What to See at Building 1933 Old Millfun

  • Lattice Windows (Facade) – Lattice windows face west, taking advantage of Shanghai’s predominant wind direction and thus allowing for better natural ventilation. The windows also face the western paradise, which was thought to allow a better reincarnation for the slaughtered animals.
  • Flowering Columns – In the absence of beams, the whole outer building is supported by over 300 columns. The umbrella-like, umbellate caps of the columns are square or octagonal. Visitors can see them along the interior periphery of the square outer building.
  • Covered Bridges – There are altogether four-storey of corridors and 26 sloping, bridging walkways in 1933 Old Millfun, connecting the central circular core with the outer square building. They form special spaces inside the building; together with the mysterious and varied architectural light and shadow, they are popular sites for photography. These covered bridges form a labyrinth, making this building a giant maze.
  • Central Atrium – This used to be the site of the main slaughtering floor. The central atrium is connected to the different floors of the outer building by spiral staircases and criss-crossing staircases. The spiral staircases are about one person wide with a graceful arc at a large angle and were designed to help workers escape easily if the animals were frightened and became dangerous.
  • Restaurants – There are a few restaurants and cafe there worth a look and rest your legs.

However, if you are looking for art galleries, you will be disappointed. The building houses a few souvenir shops, an escape game venue, art related companies and event spaces as well as a sky theatre.

Despite the lack of instagram worthy sculpture and art in this art district, 1933 Old Millfun’s one-of-a-kind architecture really makes it an unique visit. It’s proximity to the bund is another reason to visit if you are in the area. (Pair it with a visit to the Pearl Oriental Towers?)

(Note: I went there in 2015 and have not visited 1933 again hence I am not sure if there has been changes since then.)

Details for Getting There

map of around this shanghai art district

map of around this Hongkou art district in Shanghai

  • Address: 10 Shajing Rd, Hongkou District, Shanghai, China
  • Getting there: It is about 10min’s walk from Hailin Road Station (Line 4/10) Exit 2.