Plans for new building to store art in the right place

Proposed storage centre will house and maintain the city's growing and valuable artefacts under one roof

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 February, 2013, 4:29am

More artworks and artefacts are making Hong Kong their home as the city's list of local auctions and galleries grows, but storage and restoration services - in both the public and private sectors - have yet to catch up with this trend.

Now, the government is planning a storage space to house and restore the public collection of artefacts. The Leisure and Cultural Services Department has proposed the construction of a 10-storey central repository for public museums in Tin Shui Wai.

Department director Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee said the proposed building would house the government collection as well as provide space for exhibitions and public activities.

The department manages 14 public museums and four cultural venues, and the government's collection contains some 200,000 artefacts and heritage objects. The Film Archive's collection extends to 800,000 items.

But with so little storage space available in the city, the collections were scattered all around town and were not in the most ideal condition, department officials said.

Plans for the new building call for more than 200,000 sq ft of permanent space for major museum collections and a restoration workshop. The building was expected to meet storage needs for the next decade or so, they said.

Cultural and educational activities are also part of the plan. A total of 21,500 sq ft of floor space - equivalent to an entire floor - will be dedicated to a 6,450 sq ft exhibition hall, two multi-purpose rooms and a centre for research and study.

The plan also calls for advanced astronomical equipment to be placed on the roof of the building and made available for public use.

The department has yet to receive funding for the proposed building. It has submitted its plan to the district council for discussion, but has not established a timetable for its launch.

Things are moving much faster in the private sector. Former art auction specialist Vinci Chang recently opened a 10,000 sq ft space in North Point, named Beautiful Mind, dedicated to art storage and restoration services.

"There are so many galleries, and auctions taking place in Hong Kong. Thousands of artworks pass through Hong Kong every year, but professional storage and restoration services have yet to be developed," she said.

With the city's growing interest in art, it was important for art lovers to learn how to care for their collection, Chang said.

"Otherwise the artworks will be damaged," she said.

Chang's space offers 28 temperature- and humidity-controlled rooms under high security. In addition to providing restoration services, she hopes that lectures and classes can be set up to teach a wider audience of art lovers how to take care of their artworks.