M+ admission fees - why?
約翰百德 (John BATTEN)
at 6:12pm on 8th May 2023
An opinion piece published in Artomity art magazine, March 2023 - quering why M+ now charges admission and its free areas are not better publicized.
Image: John Batten: Family having cake and coffee, overlooking a misty Victoria Harbour, from Rooftop Garden, M+, West Kowloon, Hong Kong, 12 February 2023
M+ Admission fees - why?
by John Batten
天台花園的北段可以俯瞰相鄰的故宮博物院、西九龍船舶系泊區、昂船洲和九龍山，並展出美籍日本藝術家野口勇（Isamu Noguchi）的奇妙互動裝置“Playscape”雕塑。特別受小朋友喜愛，不少人在此拍攝婚禮照片，觸摸和攀爬雕塑。 入場費的根本性變化從未公開辯論過。在免費入場的第一年，博物館的參觀人數創下紀錄。收費無疑會影響香港居民的參觀人數，但整體博物館參觀人數應該因香港在疫情後通關，遊客有所增加而上升。但是，這項措施可以重新考慮嗎？至少考慮讓城居民在一個月的指定日子免費入場。博物館的網站應該強調其戶外區域可免費進入，包括天台花園，那麼，上述美好的景象可變得更加普遍。
After allowing free entry for the first year of its operation, M+ – Hong Kong’s new international museum – recently introduced admission charges. The museum has however maintained free access to the cinema and its outdoor areas, including the third floor rooftop garden. Positioned alongside the city’s West Kowloon harbourfront where this photograph was taken, the museum’s south elevation has uninterrupted views towards Hong Kong island and Lantau island. Recently installed moveable seating now allows visitors to flexibly find the best view and follow the sun in winter and shade in summer.
The north section of the rooftop garden with views over the adjacent Palace Museum, the West Kowloon ship mooring area, Stonecutters Island and the Kowloon hills, has a wonderfully interactive installation of ‘Playscape’ sculpture by the American-Japanese artist Isamu Noguchi. Particularly loved by children and as a location for wedding photos, the sculpture can be touched and climbed on.
This fundamental change in entry policy has never been openly debated. During its first year of free entry, the museum saw record numbers of visitors. Charging admission will undoubtedly impact visits made by Hong Kong residents, but overall museum visitor numbers should be supported by the increasing numbers of tourists coming to Hong Kong after the city’s post-Covid reopening. But can this entrance policy be re-examined, at least to consider giving the city’s residents free entry on designated days in a month? The museum’s website could also better highlight free entry for its outdoor areas, including the rooftop garden – then scenes like the above will happily become more common.