Shifting Sites: Cultural Desire and the Museum

Shifting Sites: Cultural Desire and the Museum

Asia Art Archive

May 6, 2008
Shifting Sites: Cultural Desire and the Museum

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There is no shortage of museums in Asia. But, for the most part, the idea of what a museum is, what it is for — this is a recent construct. The museum is a space still undergoing considerable negotiation — especially with regards to the current state of art production, which ranges from the exhibition of contemporary art at international biennales, to the trade in all manner of art objects.

While the current state of many art museums in Asia are cause for concern, with emphasis on hardware over software, it may also offer the right conditions for new interpretations of the role of
the museum.

Included in an ambitious 2.8 billion* USD Government project to build a major arts and cultural district on Hong Kong’s most famous landmark, the harbor, is a 609 million* USD, 61, 950 sq meters museum currently labeled M+. M+ seeks to be a new type of cultural institution with its mission to focus on 20th and 21st Century visual culture.

It is also part of a much bigger trend in the way that globalization is changing the role of museums in the 21st Century. The allocation by Governments of resources to building major cultural facilities represent a new trend where art museums are seen as a necessary status symbol of a truly “world class” city, a phrase and aspiration that has been adopted by cities across Asia. Cultural tourism and the economic benefits associated with this are the desired goals, as spawned by a yearning to emulate the Bilbao effect.

* net present value in 2008

In this one day conference key individuals and institutions address these issues and share with us their insights and experiences.

David Elliott, Independent curator and writer, Rudolf Arnheim Guest Professor of Art History of Humboldt University, Berlin
Yuko Hasegawa, Chief Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo
Charles Merewether, Artistic Director and Curator of the 2006 Sydney Biennale
Joe Thompson, Founding Director of Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art
Sheena Wagstaff, Chief Curator of Tate Modern, London
Suzhen Xie, Executive Director of Museum of China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing

Jane DeBevoise, Chair of the Board of Directors of Asia Art Archive and Former Deputy Director of the Guggenheim Museum, New York
Philip Dodd, Chairman of Made in China, London/Beijing
Oscar Ho, Programme Director of the Department of Cultural and Religious Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

To enrich the discussion on museum development, Asia Art Archive will simultaneously launch WHAT IS YOUR DREAM MUSEUM? Specially designed cards will be distributed to schools, universities, art organizations, and interested parties in Hong Kong, to collect peoples’ responses and imagination of their very own museum. Individuals around the world can participate through which will be ready in early May. For further information please contact Susanna Chung on [email protected] or visit

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Asia Art Archive
May 6, 2008

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