Increasingly, the establishment of museums has developed as a strategy for improving local attractiveness and economy. Recently, in China, art museums – often in private form – have witnessed a rapid development. However, despite enhanced governmental support, some of these new art endeavours still face challenges in their operation. I argue that a major factor contributing to these obstacles can be found in the relation between local governments’ ambitions to design museums similarly to other world-renowned ones (isomorphism) and the availability of local resources and expertise. In particular, my case study on the Long Museum and the Yuz Museum (in the Shanghai West Bund) shows how focusing on the achievement of globally favoured aesthetic standards vis-à-vis local resources to enhance the credibility of these new undertakings (legitimacy) has occasionally obstructed organizational efficiency, specifically in this case, of the museums’ function to store and display art.