SUHANYA RAFFEL: Welcome to M+, a new museum—a global museum—in Hong Kong. A museum of visual culture unlike any in Asia. And it is an honour indeed to welcome our guests into the museum. A museum designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the great Swiss architects—and I believe this is their finest museum design. And you are about to enter and see a preview of what we are about to offer.
Welcome to the Main Hall, our iconic central space where audiences will gather. And it is really an amazing space because of the lightwells: the skylights on either side of the tower letting in light all the way down through to the Found Space.
We have a very interesting material choice made by the architects, very much a muscular structure: concrete and the terracotta, the mullions that you see that change colour with light.
And of course, the dynamism of this space is due to the Airport [Express railway] that sits diagonally across the whole of the museum and really gives us this dynamic quality in terms of how the open spaces are organised. The Main Hall also captures the four key principles of the museum. We have our Main Hall Gallery, a space for exhibitions and collections on one corner. Then over here, our Learning Hub—learning being a core principle for the museum. And opposite that, the Moving Image [Centre]. As a visual culture museum, visual art, moving image, design and architecture [are] our remit. Behind me now, the museum store. Of course, financial sustainability, the ability to work with artists to make incredible products is also part of the museum's work.
Welcome to the M+ Learning Hub. We've moved from the grand, open cathedral-like space of the Main Hall right into the intimacy of a house of learning. Learning, of course, takes place right throughout the museum, but in the Learning Hub, our principle for learning is experimentation, play, and activity. It's a dynamic space working with artists, architects, designers as well as teachers. And with a philosophy of lifelong learning, from young all the way through. Importantly for us, the Learning Hub is also a space of movement, of the ability to be very open-ended and experimental with workshops, workspaces, but also the ability to do multiple languages. The forum space, of course, is an incredible space. That's what we're standing in now. And you will see the view out into Hong Kong, as well as being one of the revelations and the gifts of learning in our particular architecture here at the Learning Hub.
DORYUN CHONG: I'm standing in Grand Stair of the M+ building, one of the most extraordinary architectural features, which will surely become one of the most recognised, iconic spots in this building. It is an open auditorium that can seat up to 500 people. It's a two-storey high space that will connect the second-floor gallery floor level and the ground floor level. You can see the hanging structure that is being installed now, following the completion of the construction of the building that was announced in March. That hanging structure will hold an LED screen that measures ten metres wide and five metres tall that can be either lifted up high in a cinematic mode, or it can be lowered close to the floor level, and with the curtains drawn, it will create a lecture mode.
Grand Stair is also part of the larger Moving Image Centre. Underneath these stairs are three cinemas that are 180-, and sixty-, and forty-seaters. It also includes a forty-person capacity Mediatheque library.
I'm standing inside Courtyard Gallery. It's one of the thirty galleries on the second-floor podium level of the M+ building. The podium of M+ is a 110-metre by 130-metre space that is divided into four quads of different galleries of different scales and dimensions.
Most of our galleries are very classical. They're a white cube with white walls and a white ceiling with an oak timber floor.
But there are a few other architecturally unique gallery spaces such as this one. As you can see, all the surfaces, including walls and ceiling and floor, are lined with bamboo. It's also called Courtyard Gallery because it's a space that is suspended in the inner courtyard.
Through this window you can see different architectural features of the building, such as this dramatic grand escalator that connects the Art Park and the top of the rooftop terrace, as well as the hanging garden and other galleries that are part of this south quadrant.
SUHANYA RAFFEL: Welcome to the M+ podium. This is our rooftop garden that sits above the galleries. It's the size of two football fields. It is a spectacular space because it also houses our moving image media facade. The moving image media facade behind me is embedded into our tower and is 66 metres high and 110 metres across. It is a programme space, a space for creative content. In a city of light full of moving images and commercial content, we will be bringing artists, makers, material. It's a lenticular system, which means people on the podium can see it as clearly as those on Hong Kong Island. It's fired up in the evenings from 6:00pm till 11:00 at night. And of course, people will be able to enjoy this public open space while looking at the quintessential view of Hong Kong Island.
As we eagerly anticipate welcoming the public through our doors in November 2021, we are delighted to share this preview tour of our museum’s many dynamic spaces, led by Suhanya Raffel (Museum Director) and Doryun Chong (Deputy Director, Curatorial and Chief Curator). From the cavernous Found Space anchoring the building, make your way through the cathedral-like Main Hall and up onto the sprawling Roof Garden, stopping along the way at our museum shops, Learning Hub, Moving Image Centre, and numerous gallery spaces.
We look forward to all 65,000 square metres of the M+ building becoming a site for learning, reflection, debate, and enjoyment of visual culture from our region and the wider world. Enjoy the tour—and see you in the museum very soon!
Want to dig deeper into the history of M+? Check out The Making of M+, an immersive visual encounter with the museum’s evolution.