Chinese Visual & Performing Arts

Danwei, described more fully in News and Media, is a good introduction to the music, art and media scene in China's major cities, often featuring independently-produced videos.

Museums and Art History

Chinese and Japanese Art History WWW Virtual Library, Nixi Cura, New York University  Mainly lists job openings, conferences, and fellowships of interest to art historians, but also has some links.  Conference listings are often a good way to get an idea of current topics and artists of interest.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York The Met holds one of the premier world collections of Chinese art, and its website features an excellent selection of digital images of collection highlights.  Most of these can be accessed via the “Timeline of Art History” feature, which allows for searches by region, time period, artist, or other criteria.

National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan (國立故宮博物院) One of the world’s greatest museums, and a very fine website with a nice set of digital images and exhibitions.  The site is available in seven languages, in addition to traditional and simplified Chinese.  The “Digital Museum” section features rotating specially-designed online exhibitions, but images and background essays on specific genres, themes and periods can also be found in the “Exhibitions” and “Explore and Learn” sections.  The latter page also provides an extensive guide and search engine for the Qing archives and rare book collections housed in the museum, and information on digitization projects.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston – Collections:  Art of Asia This link brings you directly to information about the museum’s Asian art collection and Artemis, the site’s search engine for the MFA’s extensive collection of digital images.  Users can take a tour of the collection by region, or do a keyword search with or without advanced limits.

The British Museum:  Compass This link leads directly to the search engine for the British Museum’s online collection.  A must browse for historians and social scientists interested in material culture as well as for art historians, as the collection includes such diverse objects as Mao badges, currency and clothing from various regions and time periods as well as a sampling of manuscripts.

The Palace Museum, Beijing, China (故宮博物院) This is the museum at the actual site of the imperial palace in Beijing (a.k.a. the “Forbidden City”), not to be confused with the museum of almost the same name in Taiwan, which holds much of the contents of that palace and the imperial art collection.  Though not as comprehensive and a little more difficult to navigate than the Taiwan NPM pages, this site also features online exhibitions and digital images of masterworks.

Jacques-Edouard Berger Foundation: World Art Treasures The site for a foundation that leads cultural tours and lecture series, the key here is the “Country, Region and City Slide Library.”  This includes substantial collections of photographs of art objects and sites taken in numerous cities around China, and, under the “Worldwide Museums of Chinese Art” section, of items in major public and private collections.  The library is particularly strong for Buddhist art, temples and other historical sites.

Asian Art Museum, San Francisco One of the largest museums outside of Asia devoted solely to Asian art.  Not many digital images to be found here, but descriptions of exhibits and performances, links, and opportunities to purchase the museum’s many useful videos and slide sets.

China: 5,000 Years (Guggenheim Museum) -- Electronic Exhibition of Modern Section, Ohio State University Digital images of over three hundred paintings and woodcuts from 1850 to the present, culled from the 1998 blockbuster exhibition sponsored by the Chinese government.   Accompanied by well-written curatorial essays, the reproductions can be viewed with captions or as full-screen images.

Asia Art Archive A Hong Kong-based research center that documents the contemporary Asian art world, the Asian Art Archive maintains an extremely useful website that features listings of current exhibitions both in Asia and around the world, a newsletter, and links to galleries, bookstores, image archives and artist sites.

Chinese Association of Museums (Taiwan), member list. A very useful directory of information and links for Taiwan's many art. cultural, historical, and scientific museums in Taiwan, most of which have extensive and well-designed websites.

798 Art Zone, Beijing. This site provides one, telling window onto the fast-growing Chinese contemporary art scene and its many commercial offshoots.  798 is one of several converted former state-owned factories that form the Dashanzi (大山子) art district.  Besides studio and exhibition space, artists and organizations also run restaurants, coffeehouses, bookshops and venues for clubs, fashion shows and other social events.


Asian Film Connections, University of Southern California A wonderful site devoted to spreading access to film from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea and Japan, with some information on Indian and other Asian cinema as well.  Most parts of the website are available in multiple languages.  This is an excellent place to start for basic history of the film industry in each of these places, major artists and works, and links to other important sites.  Also a source of information on upcoming festivals, conferences and other events.

Chinese Movie Database Comprehensive database that provides production information and synopses in English and simplified or traditional Chinese.  Searchable by title or artist, the database includes early films as well as current productions, and users can browse special sections on Oscar nominees, production companies, movie stars, etc. The only drawback is that the English version of the site in particular is very pop-up and ad heavy.

A Chinese Cinema Page, Shelly Kraicer Reviews, articles and links (in English) on films from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.  This is the place to come for considered and well-informed reviews that are neither overly academic nor casual.  The site’s reviews are selective, not comprehensive.

The Illuminated Lantern An extremely enjoyable site that not only provides a substantial review database, but also background essays on commonly found themes in Hong Kong films, from triads and gamblers to ghosts and snake women.  The focus is mostly on Hong Kong, but there are also some interesting explorations of the “yellow peril” theme in American movies.

Hong Kong Film Archive (香港電影資料館) The archive houses over 4,300 films spanning more than a century, and regularly publishes monographs, company histories, filmographies and artist memoirs, which can be purchased via the site.  Downloadable filmographies are also available here.

Chinese Taipei Film Archive (國家電影資料館) . The archive collects and restores films reaching back to the early Chinese industry in Shanghai, as well as documentary and feature films produced in Taiwan or international co-productions.

Music, Theater and Other Performing Arts

Neocha 新茶 A community site devoted to sharing news and making connections in China's new creative culture, this is a excellent place to find out about concerts and learn about new music. Artists can upload music, photo and image files, etc. Much of the content is in Chinese, but one of the bilingual elements is the Next player, which streams a rotating selection of Chinese indie music.

Internet Chinese Music Archive Bilingual (simplified) Chinese and English site with audio files, mostly of folk and popular songs.  The bulk are from the twentieth century – here you can find PRC revolutionary songs of different eras, Teresa Teng favorites, and Cui Jian’s early songs, though most often only song titles are given, not artist information.  Not a lot of background information, and not very current, but a handy collection for those who want to avoid searching and downloading.

Chinese Music for Everyone, Chinese Students and Scholars Association UK A similar collection of downloadable songs, instrumentals, opera selections, etc.  As with the Internet Chinese Music Archive, it helps to know what you’re looking for, but random browsing can also be rewarding for novices.

CHIME European Foundation for Chinese Musical Research An international scholarly organization promoting research in Chinese music through a journal, a book series, and concerts and other activities through their base in Leiden. The site features a useful bibliography of works in Western languages on various aspects of traditional and contemporrary music.

Chinese Music Society of North America. Based in Chicago, the society focuses on research in and the performance of Chinese classical music.  Its website offers information about concerts, conferences, research publications and recordings.

Lisa Movius’ Links Lisa Movius is a freelance writer based in Shanghai; the links page of her website is particularly good for following alternative music in Shanghai and Beijing, and for general information on the Shanghai arts scene.                       

Birth of a Beijing Music Scene (Frontline: China in the Red) The account of Matthew Corbin Clark (a.k.a. kemaxiu), an American producer who worked with Cui Jian and other seminal Beijing rock musicians.  The page also provides info on newer artists, along with video and audio clips.

DJ Hatfield, taiwan soundscapes. Recordings and writings on the sonic environment of contemporary Taiwan, by the Berklee School of Music based anthropologist.

Lin Liu-hsin Puppet Theatre Museum (林柳新紀念偶戲博物館) Website for the Taipei museum and its two affiliated performance troupes, the Taiyuan Puppet Theatre Company and the Nadou Theatre Company. Exhibitions and the website cover the history of puppetry in Taiwan and elsewhere, as well as the updates to traditional forms that the companies bring in their new productions.

C.Y.F. Classical Puppet Art (台灣的布袋戲) A site developed by a commercial workshop, but full of extensive information on the history and motifs of Taiwanese puppet theater and dozens of beautiful images; Chinese only