Maritime Museum does not seek complete takeover of Star Ferry pier

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 April, 2010, 12:00am

May I correct some misleading points in your story on the future of the Hong Kong Maritime Museum (HKMM)('Museum eyes Star Ferry Pier site', April 22).

First, Mr Winston Chu Ka-sun does not seem to have understood that one-third of Pier 8 will remain in use by the Star Ferry Co for its Hung Hom service. While the museum will indeed occupy half of the ground floor, the other half, and half of the middle floor, will be used as a ferry pier.

Second, while in describing us as a 'private' museum, you conform to the simplistic dichotomy used by the International Council on Museums and the Hong Kong government, many more enlightened jurisdictions are more nuanced in their use. The HKMM, on that understanding, is as public a museum as any government-operated one, but it is independent in terms of its management, its collection and its major sources of funding. Many 'public' museums - from the British Museum to the Mus?e Guimet - began life as we have.

Third, neither Mr Tung Chee-hwa nor Mr Tung Chee-chen played any role in the founding of HKMM in 2003. The former became our patron, at the museum's invitation, after we had launched in Stanley in late 2005. Mr Tung Chee-chen very kindly and generously volunteered to take over the burdensome role of the chairman of the Hong Kong Maritime Museum Trust early in 2006.

In light of Central and Western District Council member Cheng Lai-king's comments in the article, it is also worth mentioning that the provision of culture is extremely expensive. To cover our operations in Stanley from ticket income, we should have to charge adult visitors HK$120 against the HK$20 we do charge.

We hope for greater economies of scale in Pier 8, but even there, if we have our audience forecast right, against the HK$30 we intend to charge, a HK$90 ticket would only just help us to break even. We heavily subsidise our ticket prices because we wish to serve the public. We do not see going bankrupt as a sensible discharge of that public service.

Stephen Davies, director, Hong Kong Maritime Museum, Stanley