More on museums

Having a root canal done today. A very special root canal: they go in through a crown next to the tooth with the troublesome nerve, thus keeping the otherwise healthy tooth intact. Or something. Sounds like a lot of exciting fun, anyway. 

While we’re waiting to see how the HK Museum of History revamps its content, we also have multitudinous phases of the West Kowloon Cultural Hub-Zone mega-project unfolding. The SCMP lists all or most the components of the nightmarish white-elephant bloat in its article on the departure of the hub-zone’s boss (who was on HK$5 million a year). 

How many theatres does the place need? I count six (Lyric, Music, Great, medium and black boxes 1 and 2). Then there are stages and halls in the vast Xiqu Centre and maybe in Freespace that are also, in effect, theatres.

Not much about it in the article, but there are also plans for commercial complexes – which presumably means tacky shopping malls, a hotel, yet more conference facilities and maybe offices. Having overbuilt ‘cultural’ venues, the project must have this other stuff to bring in rental income to help pay for it all. I’m pretty sure luxury apartments must feature in all this, because how can Hong Kong have a tech/culture/other zone without luxury apartments?

Then there are the museums. M+ was supposed to be the core modern art showcase, with a big, already acquired collection of edgy contemporary and modern Chinese works. How many of these will be left in the basement because the new NatSec regime considers them subversive? And there’s the Palace Museum, wedged in as a patriotic afterthought and affiliated with Mainland institutions, which will no doubt lend itself to overtly political exhibits. 

The original plan was to leave the land (reclaimed for the airport rail system) as a park for the community. But that was under the old colonial government. Then the handover came, and the emphasis shifted to real-estate and construction boondoggles for the tycoons – and now, late in the day, to the ideological needs of the CCP. Recent developments in Hong Kong governance in microcosm. It would make a nice little display at the new-look HK History Museum.

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10 Responses to More on museums

  1. Casira says:

    Hong Kong doesn’t need more theaters (more rehearsal rooms maybe?) as long as it doesn’t have the audience. The last time HK Phil played in front of a full house was during patriotic Tan Dun (or the annual Lang Lang) because the room was bloated with sycophants. Other local groups (hk ballet, symphonietta, opera hk) play in front of half-audience and other spaces are easily available for rent (sheung wan, sai wan ho, etc.).

    The only time the audience goes is when there is some foreign big name. But of course the masterplan is to then destroy city hall to sell that expensive harbourfront land, not cultivating an art scene.

  2. Doctor Din says:

    “Having a root canal done today.”

    Ouch! Good luck with that.

  3. Low Profile says:

    It was clear from the beginning that this project was more about property development than about the arts – why else have two public consultations on what buildings to erect on the site (presumably the first one gave the “wrong” results), but no consultation on what cultural needs should be met? Meanwhile the amateur photographic society I used to belong to often had to change venues. because there are so few affordable and accessible places where an amateur arts group can meet with a bar on site and space to store their equipment – exactly the kind of need that a properly thought out cultural facility could provide. Of course the word “amateur” is anathema to those who put forward grandiose white elephant schemes.

  4. where's my jet plane says:

    …Pescod lacked financial discipline, among other failings, and the CEO took a cavalier approach to major changes in projects.

    There was a clue that might be the case before he was appointed – he was a civil servant.

    And in the Will-they-never-learn Department:
    Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee, an aide of the city’s leader, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, is tipped to be interim CEO.

  5. Chinese Netizen says:

    Having a root canal: There is no more “ouch” these days with root canals, what with all the nice local anesthesia they inject you with.

  6. Joe Blow says:

    I had one root canal done and even without anesthesia it was painless.

  7. donkey says:

    One of the early directors of Cyberport, when asked why there was a sound mixing and movie editing studio built there, said it was because “i like editing and movies.” All the more reason to create a cavernous studio space that nobody uses.

  8. Mary Melville says:

    That fact that DAB Chris Ip, ex-chair of YTM District Council, ousted last November by a rookie with a handwritten profile, has not been replaced on the WK board with the current chair is an indication of where the problems lie.
    These boards are stacked with sycophants with little to contribute, out of touch with the community and always ready to point fingers when there are issues of accountability.

  9. Red Dragon says:

    “The 40-hectare (98 acres) West Kowloon Cultural District, on the Victoria Harbour waterfront, is meant to make Hong Kong one of the world’s leading cultural destinations.”

    You what?

    Venice must be quaking in its boots.

  10. Dr Din says:

    @ Chinese Netizen and Joe Blow.

    I stand corrected. I was confusing a Root Canal procedure with Cytoscopy…

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