The opening of M+, Hong Kong’s new museum of art and visual culture, has been long anticipated . . . and will continue to be, as the institution on Thursday announced that it would delay its opening, originally slated for 2017 and pushed forward several times since, until fall 2021. The building, designed by Herzog & de Meuron and comprising 700,000 square feet, “has reached completion,” a spokesperson told The Art Newspaper. “Work will now focus on the construction of internal fittings and fixtures, including the installation of the M+ collections.” Staff will be able to begin working at the structure as early as November of this year.
The museum, which will collect and exhibit twentieth- and twenty-first-century visual art, design, architecture, moving-image work, and Hong Kong visual culture, was most recently scheduled to open in early 2021, a date that was put forth after a planned 2020 opening was scuttled by the 2018 firing of the building’s main contractor.
The M+ museum is additionally facing the imminent forced departure of Duncan Pescod, CEO of the West Kowloon Cultural District, of which it is a part. Costs associated with the construction of the district have reportedly skyrocketed, from an initial $2.8 billion to $9 billion, as reported in the South China Morning Post, and the project has been plagued by problems including a giant sinkhole at the site. Pescod in a letter to board members said that the government had demanded he end his six-year tenure in his post eight months earlier than planned.
When completed in 2024, the West Kowloon Cultural District will additionally encompass an Art Park, M+ Pavilion, the Xiqu Centre for Chinese opera, the Hong Kong Palace Museum, and the Lyric Theatre. These institutions at present are variously incomplete or closed owing to Covid-19, though the M+ Pavilion reopened in September.