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A future Art Museum in Hong Kong is expected to turn the city into an art hub

M+, Hong Kong future Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, will open its doors in 2017 in West Kowloon. Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron won the bid last week after two years of discussions…

HONG KONG- Hong Kong is not a haven for art despite playing recently host for Art Basel Hong Kong, the Asian pendant of the Europe-based Art Exhibition , probably the largest international event for selling and buying art in Europe and now in Asia. However, there is now the idea of turning the metropolis into a hub for art from China, especially as censorship is not as strong than in the Mainland. Hong Kong could then become the gateway for all forms of art, especially for Chinese artists looking to gain fame. Even if the magazine Time Out recently made its headlines under the question “Is Hong Kong ready for contemporary art?”

The answer was an obvious no, especially as the author of the article found that Hong Kong people generally shows a limited interest for art and if yes, this would mostly be driven by commercial interest. The magazine even told that they have been more interest and enthusiasm abroad than in Hong Kong following the acquisition of a major collection of contemporary art for the future M+, the new center of modern and contemporary art.

At the end of last week, the Hong Kong Government attributed finally the construction of Hong Kong most ambitious museum’s project to Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron. They beat their rival Renzo Piano and Toyo Ito. The future M+ is a US$ 642 million piece and should be completed by 2017. M+ is also known as the Museum of Visual Culture and will house 20th- and 21st-century art, design, architecture, video and sound installations.

M+ will be the heart of the new West Koowloon Cultural District which foresees in the long term up to 17 cultural and entertainment venues in the vicinity of the new rail station connecting to the airport as well as to Mainland China. The transformation of West Kowloon is a giant task which requests a total investment of US$ 3 billion or HK$ 23.5 billion.

“Creating a design for a museum like M+, expressing the diversity of visual culture with a global perspective but rooted in Hong Kong, is a complex task,” Lars Nittve, executive director of M+, said at a West Kowloon Cultural District Authority news conference a few days ago. “But Herzog & de Meuron has succeeded.”

The museum is comprised of a one-floor horizontal building that hosts galleries and a vertical structure housing offices. The LED-lit exterior, resembling a video screen, can be seen from across the Victoria Harbor.

With the new museum, Hong Kong authorities hope to get the notoriety that other museums such as the Guggenheim in Bilbao, the Tate Modern in London or the Centre Pompidou in Paris generated.   “I’m sure that Hong Kong will be able to somehow — it’s not a competition — to be on the same level than those museums,” Architect Pierre de Meuron said in an interview.
The new museum will address the longstanding complaint from some that that Hong Kong remains something of a cultural desert.

The museum is the largest component of the government-backed, 40-hectare (98.8 acres) project that will include 23 hectares of green space built on reclaimed land across from Hong Kong island.
(Partial source: Reuters)

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Luc Citrinot a French national is a freelance journalist and consultant in tourism and air transport with over 20 years experience. Based in Paris and Bangkok, he works for various travel and air transport trade publications in Europe and Asia.