The Museum of Art is set for a revamp that will change its façade and increase exhibition space, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department says.
But the plan would mean Hong Kong's only art museum will be closed for two years before it reopens in 2017.
The lack of space has been a big problem for the museum. Its small exhibition halls and relatively low ceiling have restricted the kinds of exhibitions - in particular for contemporary art - that it can hold.
Leisure and Cultural Services director Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee said the idea was to increase exhibition space and make the museum more visible. "It is located right at the harbourfront in Tsim Sha Tsui, but it appears to be inaccessible," Fung said. "We want to take advantage of the harbour view and to improve the accessibility of the museum."
The renovation will add 2,000 square metres of exhibition space. The current plan includes two new exhibition halls, and an extra floor on top of the complex. The lobby, which is now on the first floor, will be relocated to the ground floor. The restaurant and museum shop will also be moved to the ground floor and will have separate entrances so that they can still operate when the museum is closed on its regular day off.
Louis Ng Chi-wa, assistant director of heritage and museums with the department, said the building's structural problems had been taken into consideration. It is already 21 years old, but demolishing it and rebuilding would be too costly, he said.
The department has put the revamp cost at HK$400 million. "This is the plan for the coming 20 years of the museum," Ng said. The department hopes the project will get started in 2014/15.
It said although the museum would be closed for two years, it will be an opportunity for exposure, as the collection will be available for touring exhibitions overseas. A Pablo Picasso retrospective made its way to the city last year as the Musee Picasso in Paris was closed for renovation.
The department said it would be possible to project new media or art works onto the museum façade after the revamp.