West Kowloon’s M+ to break new ground for museums in Asia

By Claire Li Yingxue

“We want to create the museum Asia does not have”: That’s the mission statement set out by the man tasked with leading M+, the world­class museum of visual culture that will be first out of the blocks at the West Kowloon Cultural District. While work began last year on building the museum, work is under way to build a collection spanning art, design, architecture and moving image.

Executive director Lars Nittve gave an update on progress last month at the fourth public forum at the Jockey Club Amphitheatre in Wan Chai. “M+ will be embracing the instability of Western concepts in an Asian context, and it will also be a museum that looks at the world from a Hong Kong perspective ­ telling another story about the last 70 years,” Nittve said. “It is a museum that embraces both Chinese/Asian, and Western/global cultural traditions, creating new types of spaces and experiences.”

Ground was finally broken on the museum site in August last year, with foundation work due to be completed this summer and the building finished in 2018, with doors due to open in 2019. It will be the first permanent cultural facility at the 40­hectare arts hub, which has been in the planning since the late 1990s.

Design work on the building has been completed, and the final plan was revealed at the forum. A huge LED screen outside the building will be the largest in Hong Kong, about 100 metres wide and 70 metres high. It will also offer a much higher resolution than other buildings lighting system’s in the city. Doryun Chong, chief curator of M+, gave an update on the museum’s fast­growing collection. Including the 1,463 works of Chinese contemporary art donated by Swiss collector Uli Sigg, M+ now has about 4,000 works, which reflect local, regional and global networks on visual cultural production. “There is no upper limit” for the size of the collection, Chong said. Work is also under way on a digital platform for M+, with a launch planned by the end of this year.

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