M+ curator poached to run art programme at refurbished Central Police Station
The Jockey Club has poached Tobias Berger from M+ to head the art element of the revitalised Central Police Station. His appointment will facilitate the development of a concrete strategy for the lavishly-restored heritage cluster in the heart of Central.
Under a 2008 agreement with the government, the Jockey Club will turn the disused police station, sections of which were built as early as 1864, into a contemporary art, heritage and leisure centre for public use.
The club announced last September that it would take sole responsibility for running the art and heritage aspects of the HK$1.8 billion restoration project after a selection panel failed to identify a suitable art group as manager. .
A person close to the selection process said the club thought that the outcome was less than ideal as it lacked expertise in running contemporary art and heritage projects. Euan Upston, former chief operating officer of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Australia was hired last year as director of Central Police Station.
Berger is a well-known face in local art circles. For the past four years, he has been curator for visual arts at M+, the multi-billion-dollar museum of visual culture being built in the West Kowloon Cultural District. Prior to that, he was executive director and curator of Para/Site Art Space for over three years and, in 2009, curated a solo show by local artist Tozer Pak Sheung-chuen, a collateral event representing Hong Kong at the 53rd Venice Biennale.
At the same time, Sino Land heritage manager Winnie Yeung Wing-yin has been named head of heritage at Central Police Station. The former SCMP journalist was previously manager of the Tai O Heritage Hotel and has experience working in Singapore.
“This is a fantastic day for us. The news will be welcome by local arts groups because Tobias is someone they know, and he is regionally- and internationally-connected. Winnie is from Hong Kong but has been in Singapore for a while, and she has done great work in community engagement,” said Upston.
Responding to concerns that the Central Police Station would become dominated by retail and dining outlets, Upston said this would not happen. “Most of the team here are engaged in community programmes. It will be a serious heritage space, and that’s its prime role in Hong Kong’s history. We do not want this to become a shopping mall,” he added.