The address 20 Huqiu Lu holds historic significant as the original site of the Royal Asiatic Society China building. The British government had granted the Society a parcel of land on the Bund in 1868 and a humble two-storey building was completed in 1871. From 1874 to 1930, the building housed a natural history museum and a library with over 800 titles. The building was demolished in 1930 and a new structure with a modernist design was commissioned from Palmer & Turner, which opened on Feb. 23, 1933. The current building underwent another full renovation after it was acquired by the Rockbund Development Company in 2010 and was renamed the Rockbund Art Museum for the purpose of exhibiting contemporary art.
The present building will undergo another phase of upgrade and renovation from January to early September 2020. Prior to its temporary closure, RAS Art Convener and Art Historian Julie Chun will lead a discussion of the historical relevance of the RAS China's role in instituting the first modern museum in China. The historical past will be bridged by a museum walkthrough with Pan Min of the Rockbund Art Museum to explore the current exhibition featuring four emerging artists from Asia in the juried Hugo Boss Asia Art Award.