• Issue
  • Nov 01, 2021

Main News: M+ Museum of Visual Culture Opens in Hong Kong

Exterior view of M+, Hong Kong. Photo by Virgile Simon Bertrand. Courtesy Herzog and de Meuron. 

After a decade in the making, M+ will open to the public on November 12. The building, designed by Herzog and de Meuron, is seated within Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District, overlooking Victoria Harbour. Measuring 65,000 square meters, it is one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary visual culture in the world, and includes 33 galleries, three cinemas, a mediatheque, a learning hub, and a research center. Around 1,500 works from the 8,000-plus holdings in the museum’s permanent collection will be on display in six inaugural exhibitions that highlight Asian perspectives on 20th- and 21st-century visual art, design, architecture, and moving image.

Among the opening presentations are “Hong Kong: Here and Beyond,” which will spotlight Hong Kong visual culture from the 1960s to the present; “M+ Sigg Collection: From Revolution to Globalisation,” a showcase of works donated by collector Uli Sigg that traces the development of contemporary Chinese art; “Things, Spaces, Interactions,” a survey of international design and architecture; “Individuals, Networks, Expressions,” on postwar visual art; and “The Dream of the Museum,” on conceptual art. “Antony Gormley: Asian Field” will display an installation of tens of thousands of individually made clay figurines by the British sculptor and 300 villagers from Guangdong in 2003. Commissions and other works will also inhabit the museum’s less conventional display spaces, such as the LED facade, roof garden, and grand stairs.

The director of M+, Suhanya Raffel, believes that “the future history of the art museum will be written to a significant degree in Asia,” and that the museum will deliver “the stories from our part of the world, told by voices participating in and influencing the global conversation.”

This year, M+ has been under close scrutiny following accusations that certain works in its collection, such as Ai Weiwei’s photo of himself raising his middle finger at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, might constitute acts of secession and subversion, and thus might violate the National Security Law. The piece of legislation has been used to clamp down on dissent since its establishment on June 30, 2020. In response, the museum said that it would comply with local laws while maintaining standards of professional integrity.

Plans for M+ were officially approved in 2011. The museum started its collection in 2012 and the construction of the building began three years later. Initially scheduled to open in 2017, M+’s launch was delayed several times due to construction issues.