After six months of renovation, Asia Art Archive (AAA)’s library now reopens to the public, with a new exhibition The Collective School and related programmes. The full revamp is the first ever since AAA’s move to its current premises in Sheung Wan in 2007, expanding the library’s shelving and event spaces by 50%. The renovation is made possible by lead library sponsor Chinachem Group, and supported by members of AAA’s Board, Collectors Circle, and AAA Contemporaries, as well as individual, corporate, and foundation supporters.
Asia Art Archive is an independent non-profit organisation initiated in 2000 in response to the urgent need to document histories of recent art in the region. Accessible to the public for free, AAA Collections has over 120,000 art historical records. The renovation gives the collections room for growth over the next five years, and provides a gathering space for knowledge exchange. Named “CCG Library” to acknowledge Chinachem Group’s donation, the expanded library is approximately 3,000 square feet, equipped with an upgraded shelving system, a multifunctional event space, and various seating areas that cater to different needs, from casual browsing to focused research. The Hong Kong Room, located in the CCG Library, will be dedicated to consolidating and highlighting AAA’s growing collection of publications and material surrounding the writing of Hong Kong’s art histories.
"In 2000, Asia Art Archive started with a single bookshelf. Now, the expanded library accommodates more than 50,000 unique physical items. The new space facilitates AAA’s mission: to document less-visible stories of recent art in Asia, and to relate them to contemporary contexts and audiences. The renovated library also features a central, open, gathering space where we can actively foster experimentation and build communities," said Christopher K. Ho, Executive Director of Asia Art Archive.
Donald Choi, Executive Director and CEO of Chinachem Group said, "Chinachem Group has been a longstanding supporter of Asia Art Archive – as a sponsor of its first home in Sheung Wan, the Ha Bik Chuen Archive Project, and funding the recent renovation and expansion of the library which is now renamed as CCG Library. Our continuous support demonstrates the Group’s commitment to creative ideas, art in Asia, and community building. With the opening of CCG Library, we hope for it to become a catalyst within the larger art ecosystem, bringing positive social impact to the communities through knowledge sharing."
Designed by LAAB Architects, the CCG Library is full of thoughtful details including a wooden shelving system and furniture for different spatial configurations, an exhibition system against the city backdrop that showcases the panoramic view of Sheung Wan, and a coral colour scheme inspired by Indian artist Nilima Sheikh’s works from AAA Collections. The library also uses sustainable materials like natural cork flooring harvested responsibly from the bark of cork oak trees, and linoleum flooring made from 97% natural raw materials along with 40% of recycled content.
The inaugural project of the new library is The Collective School, which explores artist-driven, self-organised, and collective models of learning. Developed in collaboration with the Jakarta-based collective Gudskul, the project includes an exhibition that features video, sculptures, games, and zines by eight collectives across Asia in response to archival materials from AAA Collections. Another highlight of the project is a series of public programmes from January to April 2023, bringing together international artists and cultural workers to discuss the survival and adaptability of collectives in contemporary conditions. The Collective School is supported by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, Wendy Lee & Stephen Li, and Virginia & Wellington Yee.