M+ museum opens in Hong Kong with 6,400 artworks, some controversy

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Nov. 12 (UPI) — The widely anticipated M+ art museum in Hong Kong opened on Friday with more than 180,000 square feet of space, more than 6,000 works of art and a hint of controversy over concerns about censorship.

The museum, which drew 11,000 visitors at its grand opening, features nearly three dozen collections and was designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron.

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M+ in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District is 14 years in the making and designed to attract attention to Asia as a cultural and art hub similar to New York City’s Museum of Modern and London’s Tate museums. It focuses entirely on artworks from the 20th and 21st centuries.

The new museum, however, has faced challenges and criticism. It ran four years behind schedule, went over budget, lost several top executives and was delayed by a sinkhole that opened on the construction site.

There are also concerns about censorship at the museum, considering that Hong Kong is ruled by China and artworks could be banned for being inappropriate or critical of the government in Beijing by the country’s controversial national security law.

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Some contentious subjects like the Tiananmen Square protests are on display inside the museum, though in a very mild manner.

“It seems a ban is not absolute — there is still room to mention politically sensitive subjects, although in a [very mild tone],” resident Florence Ho, who visited the museum Friday, told the South China Morning Post.

“Art is art. Politics and censorship should not take part in it.”

Construction of the M+ began in 2014 and officials buried a time capsule on the grounds of the museum a year later, which is to be opened in 2115. The building was completed last December.