The Long Journey of Baking M+

After over two decades of heated debates, M+, the first global museum of contemporary visual culture in Asia, finally opened to the public on November 12, 2021.’ Serving as a vital hub for visual art production, exhibition, collection, research, and education, M+ has brought about a profound transformation in the art landscape of Hong Kong. However, the establishment of this institution has been far from a smooth journey, deeply entangled with government policies, local politics, social critiques, and public involvement.

At the time of M+’s inception, visual culture was still a nascent discipline, Hong Kong’s art institutional system was exploring paths of decolonization, and Hong Kong art was seeking a “third space” beyond being perceived as an in-betweenness of East and West or a periphery of Chinese art.? Given these circumstances, M+ undertook the responsibility of representing Hong Kong’s art narratives and identities. Throughout its construction process, Hong Kong experienced turbulent political unrest and social movements, forcing M+ to make constant adjustments to adapt to the ever-changing external contexts. The museum thus grappled with challenges of how art should navigate political sensitivities and find its standpoint within the social-political realms.

Examining the key milestones, setbacks, and breakthroughs encountered during the long journey of “baking” provides valuable insights into M+’s vision, values, and the art ecology of Hong Kong. Through our project, we aim to trace the timeline of M+’s development as a museum dedicated to visual culture, discussing how it probes localized voices and identities, and how it contributes to the Hong Kong art ecology in the contemporary global context.