Three Shadows Photography Art Centre was founded in 2007 by the photographers RongRong and Inri as a space for the research, production, and display of contemporary Chinese and international photography. Part library, part darkroom, part exhibition hall, it was without precedent in China.
Since then, Three Shadows has developed an international reputation as China's premiere institution for contemporary photography and collaborated with a growing number of local and international museums and cultural organizations. Over the last decade, it has hosted more than 90 academic exhibitions; organized over 120 activities, including forums, lectures and seminars; and built a photobook library with over 5,000 books and publications, the largest in China.
At its Beijing premises, Three Shadows covers 4,600 square meters. The main building, designed by Ai Weiwei, is a combination of three galleries—about 876 square meters in total—surrounded by 2,600 square meters of landscaped gardens. In 2015, a new branch of Three Shadows with 4,600 square meters of space opened in Xiamen, Fujian Province. Each branch includes a café, a photobook store, a professional darkroom open to the public, and the commercial +3 Gallery. Including both its Beijing and Xiamen locations, the Centre attracts 100,000 local and international visitors every year.
Three Shadows has an active educational program, hosts an artist-in-residence program for international photographers and scholars, collaborates annually with the famed French photography festival Les Recontres d'Arles for the Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival in Xiamen, and has a collection of over 300 works by respected Chinese and international photographers. In addition, the annual Three Shadows Photography Award competition spotlights work from the unceasing tide of new and talented Chinese photographers.