West Kowloon Cultural District, one of the world’s most expensive and ambitious cultural endeavors, is finally taking shape after two decades of political debates and construction setbacks. Stretching across 40 hectares of reclaimed land on Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, the site is home to a number of performing arts centers and two museums, including one that is expected to feature expansive programs on cinema.
M+, a museum focusing on 20th- and 21st-century visual culture, will have a focus on the moving image in addition to contemporary art. Li Cheuk-to, the former long-time artistic director of the Hong Kong Intl. Film Festival, is already on board as the museum’s curator specializing in Hong Kong film and media.
The museum-in-the-making presented a retrospective on acclaimed Hong Kong director Ann Hui in December. It will stage “Miraculous Trajectories,” which combines the screening of a short film written and directed by Chinese artist Cheng Ran and live music performance by Shao Yanpeng March 29 at Art Basel Hong Kong. The museum housed in the building designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Herzog & de Meuron is expected to open next year.
The mega arts hub had an upfront endowment of $2.8 billion from the government in 2008 but it will need another $1.5 billion to close the deficit gap. In 2017, the local government struck a secret deal with Beijing to build a Hong Kong branch of the Palace Museum on the reclaimed land, which was not in the original plans for the arts hub.
Earlier this year, the district saw the opening of its first performing arts venue, Xiqu Center, which is dedicated to the art of Chinese opera, and a part of the Art Park. Other venues under construction include the Freespace Center and the Lyric Theater Complex.