Hong Kong’s M+ museum of visual culture will show works by outspoken Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei and art referencing the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown on pro-democracy students despite the introduction of a national security law in the city, its director said on Friday. Suhanya Raffel was speaking during the first press tour of the just-completed building, ahead of its scheduled opening at the end of this year. The focal point of the government’s ambitious West Kowloon Cultural District, the museum has had a difficult gestation, and will open in a political environment very different to that which existed when the planning for it began more than 15 years ago. The long-delayed museum was originally to open in 2017. In 2018, with building work far from complete, its main contractor, Hsin Chong Construction , declared insolvency and was removed from the project. In 2019, cracks in a cofferdam caused flooding and a sinkhole to open near the M+ site. Then, in June 2020, the national security law was introduced by Beijing, raising fears that Hong Kong museums would no longer be allowed to show content critical of government officials or the Chinese Communist Party. And in September, the chief executive of the body in charge of the arts hub project, the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, Duncan Pescod , was fired without any official reason. Raffel, who vowed to see off political interference when she took over the directorship of the museum in 2017, said on Friday in response to a question that there would be “no problem” showing Ai’s works and other pieces included in the M+ permanent collection, because their inclusion was based on research developed from “historical facts”. “We have always had a robust curator-led approach to everything we do and that is underpinned by research and academic rigour,” she said. “Like any global museum, it is our role to present art in a relevant and appropriate manner and stimulate debate, knowledge and pleasure. A city can only be a welcoming arts hub if it offers an open environment for artists and for different views.” The building, designed by Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron, takes a radical approach to display spaces. All 33 galleries (12 of which are dedicated to the Sigg Collection) are on the same floor – its second level, shaped like a horizontal plank, at the base of the building. The main 17,000 square metre (183,000 sq ft) exhibition space also houses three cinemas, since moving images form a significant part of the museum’s collection. The middle, vertical section, which will show moving images on a vast 100-metre-wide external LED screen, will house offices, the museum’s collection and other administrative spaces, with the uppermost floors reserved for public restaurants boasting fine views of Victoria Harbour. There have been no public announcements about entrance fees, or how many visitors the museum is expected to receive. Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee, who in December replaced Pescod as the cultural district’s interim CEO, said M+ was hoping for a “big international gathering” for its opening at the end of the year. An exact date for the opening has not been announced because the Covid-19 situation remains volatile. However, she said M+ would open this year even if Hong Kong’s borders remain closed. She also said that the authority would present an update on its financial situation and construction plans to the Legislative Council in May. There is no final bill yet for the construction of M+, originally budgeted at HK$5.9 billion, because work continues on the finishing touches. The museum had acquired a collection of 8,000 objects and an archive of 46,000 items, Raffel said. These have yet to be moved into the building. Some works from the Uli Sigg collection of contemporary Chinese art that was donated to M+ in 2012 to form the cornerstone of the museum’s collection remain in Switzerland, chief curator Doryun Chong said.