Hong Kong’s M+ gets new Executive Director from Australia

Deputy Director and Director of Collections of the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Australia will be at the helm of M+.

Ms Suhanya Raffel will bring extensive knowledge and experience in the field of contemporary Asian art at the Kowloon-based museum starting November 2016.

"The M+ Sigg Collection – Chinese Art from the 1970s to Now" at Whitworth, Manchester. Background: Wang Xingwei, 'New Beijing', 2001. Foreground: Zhan Wang, 'Artificial Rock No. 31', 2001. Exhibition organised by M+, West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, Hong Kong in collaboration with Whitworth Art Gallery. Photography: Michael Pollard 2015. Image courtesy the Whitworth.

“The M+ Sigg Collection – Chinese Art from the 1970s to Now” at Whitworth, Manchester. Background: Wang Xingwei, ‘New Beijing’, 2001. Foreground: Zhan Wang, ‘Artificial Rock No. 31’, 2001. Exhibition organised by M+, West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, Hong Kong in collaboration with Whitworth Art Gallery. Photography: Michael Pollard 2015. Image courtesy the Whitworth.

On 20 July 2016, the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) announced the appointment of Ms Suhanya Raffel to the position of Executive Director, M+ Museum of Visual Culture of the WKCDA. Ms Raffel, who currently is Deputy Director and Director of Collections of the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Australia, will succeed Lars Nittve, who stepped down from the role in Hong Kong in October 2015.

Hong Kong’s M+, Museum for Visual Culture is scheduled to open in 2019. Its collection encompasses 20th and 21st century art, design and architecture, and moving image from Hong Kong, China, Asia and beyond. M+ will join other institutions as one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary visual culture in the world. Ms Raffel, who will start her new role in November 2016, is an appropriate successor of Nittve to guide the institution, as her experience in and in-depth scholarship of contemporary Asian art is extensive.

Reporting directly to Mr Duncan Pescod, the Chief Executive Officer of WKCDA, Ms Raffel will be responsible for providing leadership in the planning, curatorial and collection development, management and fundraising for M+.

As quoted in the press release, Mrs Carrie Lam, Chairman of the Board of the WKCDA, said:

Ms Raffel is an expert in Asian contemporary art, and has over 30 years of professional experience in museum management. She brings with her a wealth of museum management experience in the areas of curatorship, exhibitions and collection development. Her capable leadership, professionalism and vision inspire our confidence in the successful opening of a world-class M+ Museum in just three years’ time.

Ms Suhanya Raffel, Executive Director of M+ (designate). Image courtesy West Kowloon Cultural District Authority.

Ms Suhanya Raffel, Executive Director of M+ (designate). Image courtesy West Kowloon Cultural District Authority.

Who is Suhanya Raffel

Suhanya Raffel, who received her education in Australia, has over 30 years of experience as a museum manager and curator. Her curatorial experience spans the United States, United Kingdom, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Hong Kong, Mainland China and many parts of Australia. Ms Raffel joined M+ matters in 2014 as a technical expert and her association with Hong Kong dates back to 2011, when she joined the Asia Art Archive presented by Art Hong Kong (now Art Basel Hong Kong).

From 1994 to 2013, Ms Raffel worked with Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, where she worked up to senior curatorial positions and became Acting Director.

Ms Raffel has also led the Gallery’s flagship Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT) since 2002 – a project she worked with since 1994 as a curator. As Deputy Director of Curatorial and Collection Development, she was responsible for building up the Gallery’s contemporary Asia-Pacific collection, and took part in major curatorial projects such as the Andy Warhol exhibition in 2007-2008 and the China Project in 2009.

Ms Raffel was appointed Deputy Director and Director of Collections of Australia’s Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2013. During her tenure, she has participated in the expansion plans of the Gallery, the ‘Sydney Modern Project’, and established a collection-based exhibition development for the Gallery, helping to transform it into a 21st century art museum.

Mr Pescod, quoted in the press release, said of the new appointed Executive Director of M+:

I am delighted we have been able to enhance the executive team of WKCDA with the appointment of Ms Raffel. She brings a wealth of international experience and proven success to this critical role. Having served in senior positions in various galleries in Australia, as well as being involved with exhibitions mounted around the world, Ms Raffel is ideally placed to direct the curatorial development of M+, as well as lead on the acquisition of artworks, design and architecture, and moving image pieces for the growing collection.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

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