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M+: an enthralling world of contemporary visual culture

Situated in the West Kowloon Cultural District, M+ is Asia’s first global museum of contemporary visual culture

Image by Kevin Mak; courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron

Situated in the West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong, M+, Asia’s first global museum of contemporary visual culture, was officially opened in November 2021. The M+ Collections are from Hong Kong, as well as other locations in Asia and around the world. They encompass works of various visual art forms, such as visual art, design and architecture and moving image.

Designed by world-renowned architecture practice Herzog & de Meuron in partnership with TFP Farrells and Arup, the M+ building occupies a total floor area of 65,000 square metres with 33 galleries. The exhibition space itself takes up 17,000 square metres. Most galleries are located on the large podium level on the second floor, offering visitors a fluid, interconnected experience of the exhibitions. The tower creates a visual dialogue with the urban landscape of Hong Kong, with its concrete structures clad in ceramic tiles reflecting the changing conditions of light and weather. The tower facade also features an LED system for the ‘M+ Facade’, which displays the M+ Collections and specially commissioned work, making a distinctive contribution to the city’s vibrant nighttime environment.

M+: an emphasis on local visual culture 

Apart from the eminent architecture, M+ brings major breakthroughs also to the mode of display and the curated collections. While traditional museums focus on exhibiting, collecting, and analysing, M+ focuses on creative interaction by opening the artist square space for public participation and social connection, which defines contemporary art with a new perspective. Curated contents in M+ extend from the traditional visual arts to visual culture, encompassing popular culture, internet culture, and technology-oriented methods of expression. With Hong Kong visual culture being the core of the M+ Collections, architecture sketches and models, graphic designs, industrial goods, album covers, posters, video games, and more are placed alongside artworks to highlight the local distinctiveness.

A record of contemporary arts development

As Asia’s first global museum of contemporary visual culture, M+ is home to a large variety of artworks. Until 2021, M+ Collection and the M+ Sigg Collection, which features Chinese contemporary art specifically, make up a total of over 8,000 items, and the number is still rising.

The M+ Collection is showcased all around the halls and exhibition spaces of M+. The museum began gathering artworks for the Collection from artists, designers and architects all over the world in 2012. It has since collected 6522 (up to 2021) cross-boundaries and cross-countries visual culture pieces from the 20th and 21st centuries, including works of design, architecture, moving image, visual art, Hong Kong visual culture, and more.

Interactive experiences for visitors

Besides physical exhibits, M+ also offers visitors a range of interactive experiences through its vast collection of moving image works and specially designed spaces. The Mediatheque on the ground floor serves as the contact point between visitors and moving image works in the M+ Collections. The Grand Stair not only connects the ground floor to the second floor, but also serves as a public space for speeches, screenings and other activities. The Cabinet on the second floor is also a site for interactive activities: as a publicly accessible art storage facility, over 200 items in the M+ Collections are dynamically showcased here. Visitors are welcome to use their mobile devices to interact with the collections.

M+ Cinema: visual culture on screen

At M+ Cinema, a local film-screening venue within the M+ Moving Image Centre, not only can you watch films of a variety of genres – think drama, documentaries, experimental films, recorded arts, classics revive, forgotten works…you can also see special films that match the themes of ongoing exhibitions at M+. 

Audiences can enjoy moving stories from all over the world and connect with creators from various arts backgrounds. M+ Cinema comprises three rooms with 180, 60 and 40 seats respectively, all fitted with digital and photographic film screening equipment and sound systems. The films are shown in their original formats, so you can appreciate them in their most original forms. There are also other dedicated spaces within M+ Cinema and M+ Museum that showcases moving images, such as the Grand Stair, M+ Facade and Mediatheque, which bring audiences an all-rounded contemporary visual culture and immersive screening experience.

M+ Facade: a large-scale moving image platform

It’s easy to spot the M+ Facade across the harbour when you look towards the West Kowloon Cultural District from Hong Kong Island. As night falls, the facade comes alive with films shown on its surface. As one of the biggest media walls in the world, the seaside M+ Facade is covered in thousands of LED bulbs, turning it into an innovative curatorial space and an ever-evolving digital platform. Audiences can appreciate the M+ Collections and digital collections from any perspectives, distance and lighting conditions through this facade.

M+ Playscape: zero distance contact with art pieces 

Aside from the exhibition space and the roof garden that affords sweeping views of the Victoria Harbour, the M+ Playscape located in the North Roof Garden is also worth visiting.

At M+ Playscape, you’ll find a few benches and play sculptures adapted from California Scenario (1980–1982, Costa Mesa, California, United States) by the famous sculptor and designer Isamu Noguchi. Noguchi encourages the audience to freely interact with the sculptures, which include several configurations of Octetra, a Play Pyramid excerpted from a makeshift playground Kodomo no kuni (1965–1966, Yokohama, Japan), and a Play Mound adapted from Piedmont Park’s Playscapes (1975–1976, Atlanta, Georgia, United States). These play structures are designed to stimulate our senses, inspire experiential experimentation, and connect the body and the imagination.

All the works placed in M+ Playscape are semi-permanent installations. You may touch and even climb on them, but do take caution and stay safe! 

Shopping and dining at M+ 

M+ not only boasts a diverse collection of contemporary artworks, but also offers a dynamic shopping and dining experience at the two museum shops, restaurants and the Roof Garden that commands spectacular views of Hong Kong’s skyline. The M+ Shop and M+ Kids Shop both feature a wide collection of delicately crafted creative products that invite you to explore the connection between life and visual culture. The display shelves in the M+ Kids Shop ignite curiosity for art in visitors with their vibrant colours while showcasing M+ publications and various creative goods.

Feeling tired from all the walking in the museum? Take a break at CURATOR Creative Café at M+, which serves up drinks and snacks in a relaxing dining setting with the view of the waterfront promenade. Other restaurants include the members-only and patrons-only M+ Lounge; the Korean restaurant Mosu Hong Kong, which offers creative dishes; and CVIEW, which showcases the essence of Chinese culinary artistry. There’s something for every palate in the museum.  

With the mission to connect art in Mainland China, the rest of Asia and the world, M+ signifies Hong Kong’s passion and determination to foster the development of contemporary art. In the mood for more culture after your visit? Take a look at our neighbourhood guide to the West Kowloon Cultural District to visit other cultural spots and enjoy beautiful sunset views of the Victoria Harbour.

Useful information

Address:  West Kowloon Cultural District, 38 Museum Drive, Kowloon
Website: www.mplus.org.hk
Ticketing: www.mplus.org.hk/en/get-tickets/


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