Shortlist: Diminishing Gaps? Public (Art) Museums in Hong Kong

Eva Man Kit-wah, Professor in the Department of Humanities and Creative Writing, Hong Kong Baptist University
May 2014


[This Shortlist is produced in conjunction with the programme ‘Hong Kong Conversations,’ an ongoing talk series focusing on Hong Kong’s cultural ecology within a social and political framework that is part of AAA's Teaching Labs programme. The following Shortlist, prepared by professor Eva Man Kit-wah, accompanies the panel ‘Diminishing Gaps? Public (Art) Museums in Hong Kong’ held on 7 June 2014. The panel examines the case of the Hong Kong Museum of Art (founded in 1962 as the City Hall Museum and Art Gallery) as the primary public institution dedicated to the development of art in Hong Kong, and asks how the establishment of newer museums such as the Heritage Museum (founded in 2000), and, more recently, M+ (to be open by 2017), enrich and complicate the landscape for art museums in Hong Kong.]

Selected readings draw our attention to two subjects: New Museology and the related discussion on the idea of the new museums; and the Hong Kong Museum of Art per se.

The evolving nature and social functions of museums in the late 20th century, especially those in the United Kingdom and the Continent, have been noted. Starting in the 1970s, museums developed from primarily custodial institutions into institutes increasingly focused on visitor attraction. The changing character of museum work that is evident in the climate of increasing institutional reflexivity is identified as ‘new museology.’

On the other hand, as metropolitan a city as it is, museums in Hong Kong have had a humble start. While modern museums in some international cultural metropolises have histories of over two hundred years, public museum service in Hong Kong has a relatively short history. The first museum in Hong Kong, usually referred to as the old City Hall museum, was founded in 1869, but was demolished in 1933. Its demolition led to an absence of public museum service in Hong Kong until the establishment of the City Museum and Art Gallery in 1962, which is antecedent to today’s Hong Kong Museum of Art.

Readings on the discussion of new museology are listed to provide a starting point for thinking about the developing landscape of art museums in Hong Kong, especially in the context of the changing museum ecology and the policy and public discourse surrounding museum marketisation and democratisation.

Recommended Readings

Carrier, David, Museum Skepticism: A History of the Display of Art in Public Galleries, Duke University Press, Durham, 2006
Genoways, Hugh H., ed., Museum Philosophy for the Twenty-first Century, Altamira Press, Lanham, 2006
Ho, Louis, ‘Xianggang (bowuguan) gushi (The Story of Hong Kong Museum)’, Journal of Local Discourse 2010, AzothBooks, Hong Kong, 2011, pp 281–291
何建宗, ‘香港(博物館)故事’,香港本土論述2010,漫遊者文化,香港, 2011 ,頁281–291
Lam Suethung, Wenbo xinchao (New Currents of Art Museums), University Museum and Art Gallery, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2007
林雪虹, 文博新潮:藝術博物館教育, 香港大學美術博物館,香港, 2007
Man, Eva, ‘A Museum of Hybridity: The History of the Display of Art in the Public Museum of Hong Kong and Its Implications for Cultural Identities’, Visual Anthropology, Paul Hockings, ed., Routledge, New York, January, 2011, pp 90–105
Marstine, Janet, ed., New Museum Theory and Practice: An Introduction, Blackwell, Oxford, 2006
Message, Kylie, New Museums and the Making of Culture, Berg, Oxford, 2006
Namiki, Seishi, Osamu Nakagawa, Meishuguan de keneng xing (The Possibilities of a Museum), Art & Collection Group Publishing, Taipei, 2008
並木誠士,中川理, 美術館的可能性, 典藏藝術家庭,台北, 2008
Prior, Nick, Museums and Modernity: Art Galleries and the Making of Modern Culture, Berg, Oxford, 2002
Tam, Eve, ed., Open Dialogue: A Launching Publication for the Hong Kong Art: Open Dialogue Exhibition Series 2008–09, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 2008
譚美兒編, 開放對話: 香港藝術: 開放.對話展覽系列2008–09特刊, 香港藝術館, 香港, 2008