Two-day symposium examines the meaning of museum collections in a contemporary context

M+, at the West Kowloon Cultural District, announces a collaboration with the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, a renowned Japanese contemporary art institution, through its global partnership initiative M+ International. M+ and the Mori Art Museum present a symposium consisting of a two-day invitation-only conference followed by a public discussion in Tokyo from 25 to 26 September 2019.

The symposium, titled ‘What Do Collections Mean to Museums?’ and convened by Doryun Chong (Deputy Director, Curatorial, and Chief Curator, M+) and Kataoka Mami (Deputy Director and Chief Curator, Mori Art Museum) with Yokoyama Ikko (Lead Curator, Design and Architecture, M+), provides a platform for museum professionals to discuss current issues facing museums and to inspire new ways of thinking about the meaning of museum collections. By focusing on institutions in the Asia Pacific region as case studies, the symposium intends to stimulate creative discussion on the potential of museum collections today.

Reflecting on ideas raised during the two-day conference, the public discussion, titled ‘What Is the New Thinking around Collections in Modern and Contemporary Museums in Asia?’, takes museums of different regional, historical, and financial backgrounds, and different administrative structures, as a starting point. Examining the activities of these museums can inform investigations of new models and future possibilities for museum collections.

M+ International was launched in May 2019 as an initiative to create partnerships and collaborations, and to expand connections with regions beyond Hong Kong. The initiative aims to generate a broader international resonance for M+, whose Herzog & de Meuron–designed building will be operational in just over a year. The first M+ International event, a moving image programme titled The Hidden Pulse, was co-curated by M+ and the Sydney Opera House as part of the opera house’s annual Vivid LIVE programme, and took place in Sydney between 29 May and 2 June 2019. Further public programmes with international institutions in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and North America will be announced in early 2020.

Suhanya Raffel, Museum Director, M+, emphasises the importance of international collaborations: ‘M+ has been building a world-class collection of twentieth- and twenty-first-century visual culture since 2012. As one of the region’s most prominent collecting museums, we see it as our responsibility to investigate the evolving role museum collections play in a contemporary context. M+ International creates opportunities to amplify our already significant international visibility; form strategic, long-term partnerships with important contemporary institutions around the world; and establish exchanges to share resources and enhance internal capacities during the critical year before the opening of the M+ building.’

Doryun Chong, Deputy Director, Curatorial, and Chief Curator, M+, elaborates on the significance of the M+ International collaboration with the Mori Art Museum: ‘Japan has a long history of private and public collections, which can serve as a benchmark and a counterpart to museum collections that have emerged more recently in other parts of Asia. There are many challenges in terms of growth and sustainability for all collections, and through open, collegial sharing of information and thoughts, we want to start to discuss how different museums can work together more productively in the future.’

Yokoyama Ikko, Lead Curator, Design and Architecture, M+, stresses the opportunities for defining specific approaches through conversation: ‘This symposium provides a platform to address urgent questions facing collecting institutions in the contemporary moment. Sessions focus on ways of collecting and preserving art, design, and architecture, as well as strategies of activating and situating the collections in a network, considering the changing role of museums. Meaningful discussions with leading museum professionals from Japan and the region will allow us to consider possible future directions.’

Nanjo Fumio, Director, Mori Art Museum, says: ‘The collection is the source of the museum’s identity, however, building of the collection has become increasingly difficult due to the emergence of new media, diversification of artists' origins, the soaring art market and so on. In this changing climate, museums must become more sensitive to acquisition opportunities, while paying greater attention to conservation issues and exploring new ways of preserving artworks. Furthermore, in the present age where we are witnessing the rise of ephemeral expressions, blurring of boundaries between art and technology and permeation of art into life, the practice of collecting is almost synonymous to the practice of redefining the nature of art. Confronted with such essential changes, it has become necessary to discuss what kind of museum collections in Asia are relevant and meaningful. I hope this symposium offers a great opportunity to discuss such fundamental issues.’

For more details on the Symposium, please click here or see below.

Conference (by invitation only, closed)
What Do Collections Mean to Museums?
Date: 25 to 26 September 2019
Seki Naoko (Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo)
Kuroda Raiji (Curator and Executive Director, Department of Operation and Management, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum)
Horikawa Lisa (Deputy Director of Collections Development, National Gallery Singapore)
Gridthiya Gaweewong (Artistic Director, Jim Thompson Art Center)
Miki Akiko (International Artistic Director, Benesse Art Site Naoshima)
Aaron Seeto (Director, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara)
Suzuki Kota (Curator, Pola Museum of Art)
Sugaya Tomio (Deputy Director, Nakanoshima Museum of Art, Osaka Planning Office)
Ota Kayoko (Curator, CCA c/o Tokyo, Canadian Centre for Architecture)
Jihoi Lee (Curator, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, Seoul)
Kasahara Michiko (Vice Director, Artizon Museum)
Uematsu Yuka (Curator, National Museum of Art, Osaka)
Matsunaga Shintaro (Curator, Yokohama Museum of Art)
Yanagisawa Hideyuki (Chief Curator, Ohara Museum of Art)
Hosaka Kenjiro (Curator, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo)
Kitazawa Tomoto (Chief, Museum Materials Section, Museum & Library Group, Musashino Art University)
Doryun Chong (Deputy Director, Curatorial, and Chief Curator, M+)
Yokoyama Ikko (Lead Curator, Design and Architecture, M+)
Kataoka Mami (Deputy Director and Chief Curator, Mori Art Museum)

Public Discussion
‘What Is the New Thinking around Collections in Modern and Contemporary Museums in Asia?’
Date: 26 September 2019
Time: 6:30–8pm
Kasahara Michiko (Vice Director, Artizon Museum)
Sugaya Tomio (Deputy Director, Nakanoshima Museum of Art, Osaka Planning Office)
Horikawa Lisa (Deputy Director of Collections Development, National Gallery Singapore)
Doryun Chong (Deputy Director, Curatorial, and Chief Curator, M+)
Yokoyama Ikko (Lead Curator, Design and Architecture, M+)
Kataoka Mami (Deputy Director and Chief Curator, Mori Art Museum)


About M+
M+ is a museum dedicated to collecting, exhibiting, and interpreting visual art, design and architecture, moving image, and Hong Kong visual culture of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District, we are building one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary visual culture in the world, with a bold ambition to establish ourselves as one of the world’s leading cultural institutions. Our aim is to create a new kind of museum that reflects our unique time and place, a museum that builds on Hong Kong’s historic balance of the local and international to define a distinctive and innovative voice for Asia’s twenty-first century.

About the West Kowloon Cultural District
The West Kowloon Cultural District is one of the largest and most ambitious cultural projects in the world. Its vision is to create a vibrant new cultural quarter for Hong Kong on forty hectares of reclaimed land located alongside Victoria Harbour. With a varied mix of theatres, performance spaces, and museums, the West Kowloon Cultural District will produce and host world-class exhibitions, performances, and cultural events, providing twenty-three hectares of public open space, including a two-kilometre waterfront promenade.

About the Mori Art Museum
The Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, opened in 2003 symbolically atop the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower skyscraper, a noted landmark of Tokyo, with the aim of becoming a pioneering international museum of contemporary art with special significance for Asia. It has since then developed its own distinctive approach to art activities, embracing the concepts of ‘contemporary’ and ‘international’ and is committed to presenting a wide range of exhibitions and learning programs that feature cutting-edge visual arts, architecture, and design in a global perspective. The intention of the Mori Art Museum's continuing ‘Art + Life’ principle is to realise an enriched society where art relates to all aspects of life.