Pompidou centre bids for Hong Kong culture hub

11th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

HONG KONG, Oct 12 (AFP) - Paris' prestigious art and design institute the Pompidou Centre has joined a bid to run a museum of modern art in Hong Kong, officials said Monday announcing plans for its first foray outside of France.

HONG KONG, Oct 12 (AFP) - Paris' prestigious art and design institute the Pompidou Centre has joined a bid to run a museum of modern art in Hong Kong, officials said Monday announcing plans for its first foray outside of France.  

The institute hopes to open the museum in the heart of a 40-hectare spit of reclaimed land on the shores of the Kowloon district that has been earmarked by the government as an arts hub housing a string of cultural and sports centres.  

"It has always been the intention of the Pompidou Centre to bring dialogue between cultures and with a museum of modern art in Hong Kong we can achieve a two-way exchange between East and West," Bruno Racine, Pompidou Centre president, told AFP.  

"We think that by providing a significant role, through our collection and our savoir faire, we can create a significant cultural centre for all of Asia," Racine added.  

The announcement was timed to coincide with a visit to China and Hong Kong by French President Jacques Chirac. He is spearheading an initiative to raise the profile of France in China in the hope of winning a larger share of the growing wealth of the fast-growing economic giant.  

The institute has joined forces with the Dynamic Star consortium that includes local property giants Sun Hung Kai and Cheung Kong, which is bidding to build and run all the facilities at the so-called West Kowloon Cultural Centre, the city's largest cultural development.  

Although the tendering process is not yet over, local media speculate about five consortia will bid for what is expected to be a 24 billion Hong Kong dollar (USD 3.07 billion) scheme.  

If the consortium wins its bid, the museum should be up and running by 2012, and would be the Pompidou Centre's only facility outside its home country.  

"We have no plans for worldwide expansion but we felt we needed a presence in China," said Racine.  

While the museum's exhibits will initially rely on some of the 54,500 works of art in the institute's Paris collection and works loaned from other Asian galleries, it will eventually build up its own permanent collection from around the region.  

The Dynamic Star details have not yet been finalised but it envisages the Pompidou Centre will pay little up front: the developers will build the 13,000-square metre museum leaving the institute to run it, buy or provide the art to fill it and organise its exhibitions.  

Controversial British architect Sir Norman Foster has been slated to design the museum.  

The government-set contract provides for the developer to subsidise the museum for the first 30 years.  

"This is a very exciting opportunity for us to play a part in China at a time of change," said Racine.  

The West Kowloon Cultural District proposal has been the subject of enormous controversy in Hong Kong, where planners and architects argue it will do little to nurture local talent and will be too far removed from the rest of the city to be economically viable.  

They have also criticised Foster's proposal to cover the entire hub in a gigantic undulating glass roof, saying the feature would be expensive and impractical.

 

© AFP

Subject: French News

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