West Kowloon Cultural District

M+ museum chief Lars Nittve floats idea to grant free entry

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 May, 2015, 11:46am

The head of the museum of modern art planned for West Kowloon says he is supportive of making the facility free of charge to the public.

The M+ museum, now a work-in-progress at the emerging West Kowloon Cultural District, is tipped to be a platform for visual culture. It would have at its core "Hong Kong artists and Hong Kong art", M+ executive director Lars Nittve said last year.

On Wednesday, Nittve said: "We are in favour of [M+] being free of charge, or only charging for major exhibitions, when it opens in 2017."

He said while no decision had been made yet, it would be a "a good policy for a place like Hong Kong", which does not have a long tradition of museums.

Arts critic Ada Wong Ying-kay said she supported the proposal.

Entrance fees - which are usually low in the city - contributed very little to a museum's revenue and would not make much of a difference in recovering the set-up costs of the facility, Wong said. "If the museum is to fulfil its function as a public educational institution [on the arts], then charging an entrance fee would defeat the purpose," she said.

"If there is a fee, what would happen to public participation? To education? To children from the lower class?"

She noted that most world-class museums were free or charged only for special exhibitions. "Ancillary services, such as restaurants, book and gift shops, and donations, would be more important sources of revenue."

The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority has drawn criticism for underestimating the cost of building the arts hub.