Finally here … in Hong Kong and in the WKCDA office!

exhibitionHow wonderfully satisfying it is to finally be here and be able to dig deep into the extraordinary West Kowloon Cultural District and M+ project! Sitting down with my WKCDA colleagues and the first members of the M+ team—which at present comprises the first curator on board, Tobias Berger, and our Visual Arts Consultant, Angela Pang—to start bringing the project from words and ideas into the real world! By “real”, of course, I mean in terms of both "hardware" and "software", to use a favourite dichotomy I have discovered in the Hong Kong vocabulary.

Several months have passed since that hot day in late June last year, when I was in Hong Kong for the first time officially, signing my contract with the WKCDA and meeting the press.

During the months that followed, I finished my nine-year tenure as Director of Stockholm's extraordinary museum of modern art, the Moderna Museet—my fourth museum directorship—and, full of expectations, packed my home, library and everything else for shipping to Hong Kong. I also started coming to Hong Kong for short but regular visits, slowly starting to build a team, participating in discussions about the Conceptual Plans and getting to know the Hong Kong art and design community.

Right now the M+ team has a lot on its plate. At the same time as we are participating in the process that will lead to a decision on the final Conceptual Plan—the most thorough and penetrating set of discussions of this kind I have ever experienced! We are beginning preparations for the immensely important work we have ahead of us during the spring. I am referring to formulating a detailed artistic vision for the future museum we are calling M+—a museum that shall be simultaneously rock-solid professionally and absolutely groundbreaking in terms of content, meaningfully integrating visual culture in a way that never has been seen before.

When I get questions from colleagues around the world about what we are up to, what our ambitions are and what we aspire to be, I don't see any reason to hold back. I tell them that we plan to open a museum in Asia, in Hong Kong—just a couple of decades into the 21st century—that will change the playing field and the very idea of what a museum can be. I tell them I anticipate M+ will do this in much the same way that New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) did during its important years of the 1940s and 1950s, back when the world had never seen anything like it. MoMA set a new agenda and became a role model for a number of museums that were born in the late 1950s. Our ambition is to do that in our time, here at the West Kowloon Cultural District.

Our growing team of curators will engage in a number of meetings with key stakeholders starting formally in March, and on a more informal basis as part of this "software development". By the time summer comes around, my hope is that we will have a lot to tell you all, dear friends of the WKCD and visual culture!


Lars Nittve
Executive Director, M+