By Guo Juan
Published: 2007-03-15

Gong Mingguang was a jewler from Hong Kong before moving on to found the Museum of Contemporary Art at Shanghai. At that time, he did not foresee himself moving to Shanghai and becoming involved in an art gallery, as his own craft had little to do with contemporary art. But for Gong, simply making jewlery at the People's Park left something to be desired for.

When he was younger he used to play at the Park and recite lessons. After he fell in love, married, and had children, he brought them all back there as well. After weighing his fond memories of the Park, he decided that he wanted to make 'a gallery for the people''-- and give back to his birthplace.

Before starting the gallery, Gong knew that both his mind and his money would be entirely consumed by the project. But even now, this gallery that he has struggled for so long with is a sweet burden.

'Our exhibit is in two parts, in one sense it showcases China's Contemporary Art, but it also brings in highly-regarded works from overseas. We display Chinese art to foreigners, while also allowing local audiences to have the opportunity to see the best that foreign art has to offer,' says Gong.

In order to forge the right gallery environment, they made large-scale renovations to a foundation that was originally a garden. Gong dug deep in order to create space, and covered the outer walls with the same material as the Guggenheim Musuem, which is said to cut out 99 percent of all ultraviolet light.

Lu Rongzhi, who has been behind the planning of several MoCA exhibits, is a colorful, cheerful, Taiwanese professor who refers to herself as 'old mom'. In this first year, its collection of cartoons and comics aimed at young audiences have become popular. 'This trend isn't driven by us, it was just inevitable. We caught onto it. When we saw that we were doing things right we were ecstatic,' says Lu.

Just one year before, she was not so optomistic about MoCA. 'We were introduced by Du Bozhen. He called me and said a man from Hong Kong wanted to start a contemporary art gallery. After meeting him I tried hard to deter him, saying that it was very difficult nowadays to run a contemporary art gallery, that it would lose money. But I was moved by his sincerity. I told him that if we start now, we have to start saving money and not waste a penny. He wasn't part of a community, wasn't a big collector himself, was not surrounded by resources. He purely wanted to do a good deed. The art circle owed him, but was afraid that he would squander the funding.

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