An Enormous Photography Museum is Opening in China

Aerial view of a modern architectural structure with flowing curves and green roofs, set in a lush park area. Surrounding roads, trees, and a tall building are visible. Pathways and landscaped areas wind around the building, integrating it into the natural environment.
Artist’s rendering

Later this year the city of Lishui in China will become the proud host of an enormous museum dedicated to photography — possibly the world’s largest.

According to a report by the British Journal of Photography, the relatively small Chinese city (it has a population of 2.5 million) will open the Lishui Photography Center at a cost of $42.6 million (309 million yuan).

An artist’s rendering shows a modern, architectural wonder integrated into the local hillside.

By way of comparison, Fotografiska in New York City boasts a space of 45,000 square feet while the Lishui Photography Culture Center is sprawled across 160,000 square feet.

Why Lishui?

Lishui may not be Beijing or Shanghai, but it is considered the spiritual home of Chinese photography in large part because of the nationally renowned photographers that live in the area. Since 2004, the biennial Lishui Photography Festival has taken place there. The southern eastern city is also home to the far more modest Lishui Photography Museum.

A modern, cylindrical building with an exterior composed of horizontal, golden bands and ample glass windows, illuminated warmly under dusk light. The structure sits amidst a landscaped area with paved walkways, surrounded by tall trees.

“Lishui aims to enhance its cultural landmark and international reputation by promoting the photography cultural brand,” Weixin Fu, director of Lishui Photography Culture Center and the city’s Photography Museum, tells the British Journal of Photography.

“Through the medium of photography, Lishui wishes to introduce itself to the world and encourage people to visit and appreciate this city. At the same time, Lishui aims to contribute to social and economic development as well as the growth of the visual industry through the art of photography.”

Focusing on Technological Advancements as Well as Photography

Fu says that photography is “closely intertwined with the development of technology” and there will be a focus on industrial science along with the photo industry.

At the 2023 Lishui Photography Festival, a spotlight was shined upon the often-complicated relationship between AI technology and photography.

“The center should have a forward-looking perspective and provide a platform for displaying the film and imaging industry,” Fu tells the British Journal of Photography.

“Through the planning and organization of events such as the World Photography Congress, Lishui Photography Festival, daily exhibitions, and professional exchange activities, we hope to offer more opportunities for global exhibitions, collaborations, and exchanges within the film and imaging industry. It would be very honorable for Lishui if this platform can contribute to the advancement of new imaging technologies.”

Image credits: Lishui Photography Culture Center via British Journal of Photography.