© Herzog & de Meuron / Photography: Virgile Simon Bertrand

Self-proclaimed as being Asia’s first global museum of contemporary visual culture, the landmark M+ officially opens its doors today in Hong Kong after a delay of many years. Situated in the emerging West Kowloon Cultural District, overlooking Victoria Harbour, the venue is part of an effort to boost the city’s cultural stature on a global scale, but the political events in recent years have cast a spell on that ambition. Nevertheless, M+ is an imposing sight to behold as it contributes to Hong Kong’s spectacular skyline with sleek boxy edifice by renowned architecture practice Herzog & de Meuron. Offering a floor space of 65,000 sqm. (699,654 sq.ft.) spread over several levels, the building comes with a striking terracotta tile-clad tower, featuring a dynamic LED media system on the south facade which features M+ content that visible across a large part of the bustling harbour.

Visitors arrive in the voluminous main hall, defined by concrete walls and columns, wall sections clad in glazed terracotta tiles, bamboo furnishings, and perhaps most importantly, floods of daylight that comes in through large light wells on either side of the aforementioned tower. Obviously, art is exhibited here too, and given the spatial dimensions, expect to find bold pieces, such as Yugo Nakamura‘s digital artwork and the large-sized calligraphy pieces by Tong Yang-tze. A large diagonal cut-out reveals the lower level, including the so-called Found Space, an excavated exhibition space that follows the contours of the underground Airport Express railway tunnel. Advancing further on the ground floor, the main exhibition hall unfolds where M+‘s inaugural main show Hong Kong – Here And Beyond is presented.

As the museum commissions artists, the show includes an exact replica of architect and designer Gary Chang‘s much-publicised, compact yet fully convertible Hong Kong apartment. The Learning Hub can be found one floor up, a multifunctional space with a large conference room suitable for various events and activities that serve, yes indeed, learning. Elsewhere on the ground floor, at the base of the storage and conservation facility, an atelier can be found where conservation and research activities are executed which can be viewed from the outside through large windows and which is a continuous exhibition in itself. Up on the expansive second floor, most of M+‘s exhibition galleries are situated, and which are divided into four quadrants.

It’s here where the renowned Sigg Collection, the planet’s largest Chinese contemporary art collection is on display, in addition to the museum’s international design, architectural and visual art collections, including Antony Gormley‘s awe-inspiring Asian Field installation with approx. 200,000 clay figurines. The Grand Stair is a light-filled and fully equipped open auditorium which seats 400 people, and right below three cinema rooms and a media library are situated. The fully bamboo-clad Courtyard Galleries presents a collection that’s a self-reflection of sorts on the building and its cultural goal, featuring the works of four leading artists—Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, Nam June Paik and Yoko Ono, in addition to other seminal works by a variety of Asian artists.

The M+ rooftop garden, situated on both sides of the tower, is a public open space with lush greenery and sweeping views of both the city and harbour. Additional facilities include M+ Shop, a shopping destination in its own right. Designed by London-based practice Lumsden Design, it’s divided into three specific zones which serve as anchors to attract customers with a variety of merchandise. The Other Shop features a design which reinterprets local Hong Kong design features and takes cues from display shelves in traditional Chinese medicine cabinets. CURATOR Creative Café at M+ offers drinks and light bites to be enjoyed with views over the promenade and waterfront. Early next year, the ADD+ restaurant will open, serving meals inspired by the multitude of different cuisines across Asia, as well as bites that evoke the comfort and nostalgia of Hong Kong’s wide range of classic snacks.

38 Museum Drive (Kowloon)
Hong Kong
Telephone: +852 22000217
Tue-Thu 10am-6pm
Fri 10am-10pm
Sat-Sun 10am-6pm

© Herzog & de Meuron / Photography: Edmond Choy and Kevin Mak