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I started writing this post more than a week ago with the intention of publishing it last Wednesday. With a toddler, a full time job, and my mom in town, I should have known better. But now I have found a few quiet minutes to write about our Sunday afternoon trip to M50, Shanghai’s (mostly) free outdoor art gallery.

A sign with the letter M made of metal.

A woman wearing a baby in front of a spray painted wall.

Erin had been trying to get me to M50 since she took Evie back in February while I was away for a business trip in Singapore. Described by Time Out Shanghai as the “urban ghetto of Shanghai’s art scene”, the large outdoor space is full of small studios, as well as several larger galleries that you can wander in and out of as you make your way around the large, pedestrian friendly outdoor spaces. Dotted with cafes and lined with art ranging from majestic to bizarre, we found our visit to be full of interesting surprises, and enjoyable even for 19 month old Evie. M50 boasts art from well known Chinese artists, such as shanghART H-Space Gallery, as well as lesser known artists vying for space in Shanghai’s art scene. Avoid the long lines and peek in the forgotten or seemingly empty spaces for the best that M50 has to offer.

a baby sits in a stroller in front of graffiti of a skull that says help.

Evie’s first trip to M50.

The entrance to a building that says ShangART in English and underneath it is Chinese writing.

Entrance to one of the ShanghART galleries.

A picture of petrified tree roots.

To take a break from the heat, we popped into a café near the entrance of the gallery space. The food was extremely average, but the homemade dumplings were delicious. At 12 for 20rmb they were also a great deal.

On our way out we passed by M50’s infamous graffiti wall. The wall is continually being sprayed over with new art. It struck me that this is much like Shanghai itself, where restaurants and boutiques regularly disappear overnight without warning. Erin reasonably wondered when the graffiti wall, too, might disappear. When I moved to Shanghai, people would tell me why they love this city, and the most common reason I heard was there is always something new to see. I often get caught up in my daily routine and miss opportunities to appreciate the trendy urban scenes that are playing out around the city. M50 was a good reminder to seek out more of the life that is happening here outside of my own neighborhood.

graffiti on a wall

A baby touches a picture of a rabbit that is spray painted on a wall.

Graffiti of a woman on a building.

a person spray painting a wall. The wall has a graffiti image of a rabbit.

The wall being updated by a local artist.


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Jenny · July 19, 2017 at 2:39 am

It’s been years since I’ve been, I always enjoyed each time we’ve been over there – a fun place to wonder with kids. There’s a great park just across the bridge/creek too.

    clearyr · August 4, 2017 at 6:41 am

    There is something new to see every time!

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