The Hong Kong Museum of Art is set to close on August 3, 2015 for around three years for a major renovation and expansion. Photo: Bruce Yan

Hong Kong Museum of Art set to close for HK$930m expansion to meet growing demand

Major renovation project will generate extra space for bigger exhibitions and create more galleries that can showcase works from overseas

The Hong Kong Museum of Art will close next month for a HK$930 million renovation that will give it about 40 per cent more exhibition space when it opens four years later.

The upgrade was needed because the museum was built 24 years ago and failed to cater to modern exhibition needs, said Chan Shing-wai, assistant director of leisure and cultural services (heritage and museums).

"In fact, we have had a pressing need to do so for some time."

The ceilings of the museum's galleries were only about 3.5 metres high, which meant large art pieces could not be shown. This restriction meant that last year a seven-metre exhibit was shown at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre instead, museum director Eve Tam said.

"There were some exhibits from overseas which could not be shown at the museum because of the height problem," she said.

The ceilings of the galleries will be raised to between five and nine metres high.

The exhibition area will be increased from about 7,000 square metres to more than 10,000 square metres, giving the museum much needed space to cater for growing demand.

At present, the Tsim Sha Tsui museum has seven galleries, five of which showcase its own art pieces, so there are only two left for other exhibits.

"If we are to show art pieces from overseas, we usually need two to three exhibition galleries. There is a pressing need for us to have more galleries so large-scale exhibitions can take place here," Tam said.

There will be nine galleries in the museum when the renovation is completed, with one dedicated to work by Hong Kong artists.

Increasing visitor numbers was another factor, Tam said. About 300,000 people a year visited the museum five years ago. That had risen to about 400,000 recently and she expected the number to continue rising after the renovation.

During the museum's temporary closure, its 16,000 art pieces - mostly from Hong Kong and mainland China - will be on display in various places such as the Central Library in Causeway Bay and the Heritage Discovery Centre in Kowloon Park.

Well-known exhibitions that have taken place at the museum recently include the "Andy Warhol: 15 Minutes Eternal" exhibition, which ran from December 2012 to March 2013.

The museum will close on August 3 and is expected to reopen in mid-2019.


This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Art museum to close for HK$930 m upgrade