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Mar 15 2021

M Woods Closes Following Death of a Worker on Site

by Celina Lei

Exterior view of M Woods Hutong. Image via Facebook.

The accidental death on March 9 of a worker who fell while conducting thermal insulation work in the rooftop control room of Beijing’s M Woods Hutong—the Dongcheng branch of the private art museum M Woods—has prompted the museum to close to the public on March 15. 

The Beijing government confirmed on March 10 via its website that investigations were underway regarding the worker’s death. On March 13, M Woods issued a statement on the social-media platform Weibo explaining that it had contacted the deceased’s family and arranged for their visit to Beijing. M Woods added in a second post that the museum will be closed to mourn the worker’s death, and there would be a temporary postponement of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s solo exhibition, “Seeing Sound Hearing Time,” which was slated to open today. Sakamoto offered his condolences on Instagram and voiced his support for the museum, saying that the staff has “worked tirelessly without sleep” and has shown “ongoing commitment to the deceased’s family.” While new opening dates have not been specified, the artist further added that “Additional events and pauses may be introduced in consultation with the immediate family during this difficult period of mourning.”

Witnesses of the Tuesday incident claimed that the worker fell through the museum’s metal-sheeted rooftop control room, which extended beyond the main building’s edge, according to NetEase. An ambulance arrived 20 minutes after staff reported the incident but the worker was unconscious. Despite the accident, on March 12, the museum’s cafe was still seen operating as usual, with workers seen working on rooftop projects, according to Dazhong News.

On March 13, following questions directed to M Woods Hutong’s architect Shuhei Aoyama by the media, in addition to online discussions of the incident by the public, the designer posted a Weibo response stating that a 1.4 meter-high safety barrier existed between the main body of the control room and the location of the worker’s fall, with clearly labeled “do not cross over” signs.

Ryuichi Sakamoto’s exhibition at M Woods is his first Chinese institutional appearance. Originally scheduled to last until August 8, it will highlight eight large-scale works including two site-specific outdoor installations at the museum’s rooftop. 

Co-founded by millennial collectors and couple Lin Han and Wanwan Lei, M Woods has two branches in Beijing. M Woods 798, in the 798 Art District, opened in 2014, while M Woods Hutong opened in 2019.  

Celina Lei is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific

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