There is no shortage of museums in Asia. But, for the most part, the idea of what a museum is, what it is for — this is a recent construct. The museum is a space still undergoing considerable negotiation — especially with regards to the current state of art production, which ranges from the exhibition of contemporary art at international biennales, to the trade in all manner of art objects. 

While the current state of many art museums in Asia are cause for concern, with emphasis on hardware over software, it may also offer the right conditions for new interpretations of the role of the museum.

Included in an ambitious US$2.8* billion Government project to build a major arts and cultural district on Hong Kong's most famous landmark, the harbor, is a US$609 million*, 61, 950 sq meters (gfa) museum currently labeled M+. M+ seeks to be a new type of cultural institution with its mission to focus on 20th and 21st Century visual culture.

It is also part of a much bigger trend in the way that globalization is changing the role of museums in the 21st Century. The allocation by Governments of resources to building major cultural facilities represent a new trend where art museums are seen as a necessary status symbol of a truly "world class" city, a phrase and aspiration that has been adopted by cities across Asia. Cultural tourism and the economic benefits associated with this are the desired goals, as spawned by a yearning to emulate the Bilbao effect.

In this one day conference we invite key individuals and institutions to address these very issues and share with us their insights and experiences. Confirmed speakers include Jane DeBevoise, Chair of Asia Art Archive and Former Deputy Director of Guggenheim Museum; Phillip Dodd, Chairman of Made in China, London/Beijing; David Elliott, Independent Curator and Critic (Founding Director of the Mori Art Museum); Yuko Hasegawa, Chief Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art,Tokyo; Charles Merewether, Curator and Artistic Director of 2006 Sydney Biennale; Joe Thompson Founding Director of MASS MoCA, Massachusetts; Sheena Wagstaff, Chief Curator, Tate Modern, London; Su Zhen Xie, Executive Director of Museum of China Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing.

*net present value in 2008


AAA and Department of Cultural and Religious Studies, CUHK present a one day international conference focusing on museums and cultural districts.

Major resources are being allocated by governments to building cultural facilities – think Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong's West Kowloon. Today, art and cultural facilities are seen as necessary components of a world-class city; a desire reiterated throughout cities in Asia. Can the one-stop cultural district really emulate the vibrancy of art scenes in cities like London and NY? And the idea of a museum – this is a recent construct in Asia – so what should today's museum look like? Eight internationally renowned speakers will come to Hong Kong to address these issues.

Content from the conference, including keynote speeches, presentations, reports, and group discussions can be found online.



Special Thanks to media sponsor, ArtAsiaPacific and Kee Club

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Conference: Shifting Sites: Cultural Desire and the Museum (Powerpoint Presentations)
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Conference: Shifting Sites: Cultural Desire and the Museum (Powerpoint Presentations)