HONG KONG ART MUSEUMS
The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) seems to be taking its plans to develop a world-class cultural district in Hong Kong seriously. After appointing ex-Barbican (London) Artistic Director, Graham Sheffield as the CEO of the project in April this year, the WKCDA announced, on 23 June, the appointment of Lars Nittve as Executive Director of the district’s Museum Plus (M+).
Nittve will work in close collaboration with CEO Sheffield and will be responsible for all content and exhibitions of M+, which, as per guidelines set out by the Hong Kong government’s Museum Advisory Group, will be:
…more than a museum or a building space. It would be a new type of cultural institution with its mission to focus on twentieth to twenty-first century visual culture, broadly defined, from a Hong Kong perspective, the perspective of now, and with a global vision. With an open, flexible and forward looking attitude, M+ aims to inspire, delight, educate and engage the public, encourage dialogue, interaction and partnership, explore diversity and foster creativity and cross-fertilization.
While WKCDA is spending substantially on hiring the best names in the market, Hong Kong art enthusiasts are worried whether their expertise will work in the localised Hong Kong art scene. At a recent press conference held by the WKCDA in Hong Kong, Nittve said that he is relying on collaborators with an in-depth knowledge of the arts scene of Hong Kong paired with his own experience in the museum field to tackle this anxiety.
Nittve is a renowned museum director and curator with years of experience heading world-class institutions such as London’s Tate Modern and Stockholm’s Moderna Museet. As the first director of Tate Modern in 1998, Nittve led the development of the museum, establishing it as one of the top modern art museums in the world, drawing close to five million visitors in its first year.
When asked how he would compare developing M+ with his work with the Tate Modern, Nittve cautiously said,
If I look at complications and possibilities, someone told me yesterday when I just flew in, that it’s going be more complicated than the Tate Modern. I would rather say that there are many advantages in developing M+, because actually we start from scratch more or less. In Tate Modern, we have to plug-in into a one hundred-year-old institution with its traditions, with its already existing staff, and that made it quite complicated to create a museum, that soon turned out that would be the biggest one in the family. So I think that it’s probably different, equally complicated, but in different ways. Every museum is different to start with, because every local context is different. And you have to, of course, rely on what you know, but also you have to take some leap of faith.
Nittve will officially join the WKCDA team in January 2011 and will start with defining specific guidelines as to how the collection at the M+ will take shape.
- Leading non-profit institutions gathered by Tate Modern for art event: Art Radar Asia lists Asian participants – July 2010 – profiles 13 independent art spaces including Hong Kong’s Para/Site
- Hong Kong desert for new media art? New Gallery I/O oasis – interview – July 2010 – Art Radar Asia speaks with Rachel Connelly (Assistant Creative Director) gallery’s aims
- London’s Michael Hoppen pioneers photography at Art HK 10, plans Hong Kong gallery – interview – June 2009 – intriguing art news from leading gallerist
- World’s top collectors and art professionals attend ART HK: a testament to fair’s growing importance – June 2009 – an after-event overview
- Hong Kong’s new museum district appoints ex-Barbican CEO, Graham Sheffield- media round-up – April 2009 – what the media said about Graham Sheffield’s April appointment