Museum warns time running out for move

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 January, 2008, 12:00am

The director of the Maritime Museum has warned that time is running out for the government to decide whether to support its proposed move from Stanley to the Star Ferry No8 pier in Central, and provide a multimillion-dollar cash injection.

Stephen Davies was responding to a paper to be discussed at the Legislative Council's home affairs panel tomorrow that says the government was 'actively considering' a museum submission to make the move in 2010.

Mr Davies said the government must make a decision in the next 18 months or risk losing the museum forever.

The pier offers 3,300 square metres of space - more than six times that available at Murray House in Stanley - and would allow more of the large collection to be displayed.

The museum is asking for a 50-year lease at a nominal rent and to be given a HK$52-million grant from the government to match funding provided by a trust created by the maritime community. It then plans to approach the Jockey Club for an additional cash injection.

In the paper, the government said a number of commercial operations had also applied for the space.

'We are considering in detail the [museum's] request for support and would need to discuss further with HKMM in good time,' the paper said.

It goes on to praise the museum for its professional and efficient operation, and for acknowledging Hong Kong's importance as a port city. It also says most other big international port cities have large maritime museums on prime harbourfront sites.

Mr Davies said while the museum was happy the government appreciated its efforts at preserving the city's maritime history, they were running out of time to secure the museum's future. The lease on Murray House expires in August 2010.

'Time is running out for us to secure a home,' he said.

'The intention always was that once the trust put up money, eventually the government would also provide money.'