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HONG KONG MARITIME MUSEUM – FIRST 10 YEARS 2005/2015

2015/10/29 — 9:51

No Maritime Museum in HK

1. Hong Kong, as the world knows it, is a product of its maritime past.  Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Peninsula are surrounded by the sea.  Sea activities in and around Hong Kong made Hong Kong what it is, a world port and a world city.  The history of Hong Kong is its maritime history and it is an incredible history, as can be seen by this 1905 image of Hong Kong and its Harbour.

 

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multi-plate panorama. HSBC Exhibition 2015, HKMM – courtesy of Form Asia

multi-plate panorama. HSBC Exhibition 2015, HKMM – courtesy of Form Asia

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2. Any city with such maritime history would be expected to have established for its people, some time ago a maritime museum. This did not happen in Hong Kong. It is most regrettable for a maritime city of such energy, vitality and wealth, that Hong Kong had consistently neglected to give to its people a maritime museum worthy of its maritime past. All other major maritime countries and cities have done so, from London Greenwich to Sydney. The 80 odd members of The International Congress of Maritime Museums would be a roll-call of all the substantial maritime museums in the world.   But Hong Kong was absent from that list, until 2005.

 

The Establishment of HKMM at Murray House, Stanley 2003-2005

3. In 2003, the Hong Kong shipping community (one of the most powerful in the world) finally decided that Hong Kong could not wait for the Hong Kong Government to establish a proper maritime museum.  Frank Tsao and Anthony Hardy, Chairman and past Chairmen of the Hong Kong Shipowners Association (“HKSA”) took up the cause and rallied the Hong Kong shipping community in the form of the members of the HKSA to start a private museum in the name of Hong Kong Maritime Museum.  In late 2003, a Trust (with initially only 4 Trustees - Stephen Pan, Frank Tsao, MH Liang and Anthony Hardy) was established to be the guiding creature of the Hong Kong Maritime Museum and a limited company (with initially only 4 Board Directors - Anthony Hardy, MH Liang, KL Tam and YK Chan) was formed to be the operating arm of the Hong Kong Maritime Museum.  An initial fund of $32 Million was raised from the shipping community. By 1st September 2004, the Hong Kong Maritime Museum (‘HKMM”) had acquired a 6 year lease of the Ground Floor of Murray House at Stanley to be the site of the HKMM. The remarkable combination of Stephen Pan, Frank Tsao, Anthony Hardy, MH Liang and KL Tam worked so relentlessly (fund raising, starting a collection, engaging designer and contractor and employing staff) that within one year from acquiring the Murray House lease, the HKMM was officially opened by the Hong Kong Chief Executive, the Hon. Donald Tsang on the 8th of September 2005.  KL Tam proved invaluable in supplying inter alia the important Chinese maritime history component to the exhibits and storylines. Dr. Stephen Davies, a maritime historian with a naval background, was appointed to be its first Museum Director. Anthony Hardy was the Chairman of the Board.  Stephen Pan was the Chairman of the Trust.       

         

HKMM at Murray House, Stanley 2005-2012

4. Murray House was a Hong Kong historic building of significance in Central which was dismantled in 1998 and moved to Stanley, on the south side of Hong Kong island. Murray House was therefore a very appropriate building for the new Hong Kong Maritime Museum. The Ground Floor premises of Murray House occupied a total area of about 500 sq. meters.  The two Galleries of the Museum occupied each about 240 sq. meters. The Ancient Gallery covered the period from 1000BCE to c.1870CE and the Modern Gallery covered a time from c.1870CE to the present day.  The layout of the two Galleries can be seen as shown on the Plan.

5. The Collection of the Museum at Murray House increased steadily from its early days of 2004 so that by 2008 (when the HKMM was in serious discussion with the HK Government over the proposed Government support of the HKMM project expansion to Pier 8), the Collection included some 3,500 objects (with about 150 on loan) consisting of  ship models, fine art paintings and prints, ceramics, objects d’art, nauticalia, archival documents, photographs, fabrics, historic marine charts, books and serials as well as a number of hi-tech interactive and other electronic exhibits. Of the larger objects, a high proportion of the 150 loaned objects was included in the permanent displays. In the permanent displays, the ratio between loaned and owned items was roughly 1:4. The compact displays in the two small Galleries as shown in the photographs required considerable skill but the visitors response was favourable.

6. Notwithstanding the somewhat remote location of Murray House at Stanley, there was a continuous flow of visitors (both local and visiting) to the HKMM. The Visitors figures to HKMM at Murray House from 2005 to 2012 (total: 288,387) are:-

9/9/05 – 31/12/05 25,277

1/1/06 – 31/12/06 47,187

1/1/07 – 31/12/07 60,955

1/1/08 – 31/12/08 36,618

1/1/09 – 31/12/09 33,817

1/1/10 – 31/12/10 33,027

1/1/11 – 31/12/11 36,768

1/1/12 – 03/06/12 14,738

7. A small team under the quasi-naval discipline of Stephen Davies, the Museum Director (assisted by Catalina Chor, Curator and Executive Manager) worked hard to reach the above visitors numbers. In the less than 7 years period (September 2005-June 2012) of HKMM operation at Murray House, no less than 11 temporary exhibitions were mounted at the Museum, namely:-

8. The energetic team under the Museum Director was encouraged by the Board of Directors (with an ambitious vision) to strive for high standards in all aspects of the Museum activities including the temporary exhibitions. The Board during the above period was small but met regularly. The Board Members in early 2010 (time of the 10th Exhibition) were:

Anthony Hardy (Chairman)

MH Liang              YK Chan  

Andrew Chen        William Waung

9. The Board was fortunate in that the HKMM Trust was both understanding, encouraging and supportive of the drive forward of the young museum. The Trustees in early 2010 were:-

C.C. Tung (Chairman)

Anthony Hardy           MH Liang

Joseph Ting           Frank Tsao

Kenneth Koo         Wang Futian

John Meredith       Timothy Smith

Roger Tupper        John B. Rae-Smith

George Chao.

10. Finance was of considerable concern to the Trust and to the Board at that time. There was a yearly operating deficit of some $4 million.  Operating Income was just slightly short of $1 million but Expenses were running at just over $5 Million.  The yearly deficit was financed from the fund raised from the shipping community for the HKMM in the total sum of $52 Million ($32 Million first round and $20 Million second round).  The operating income at around 20% of the budget, by HK government museums terms can be regarded as remarkable achievement.  But the yearly large deficit was still the major concern of the Board and the Trust, as the diminishing fund could not sustain the Museum beyond its remaining days at Murray House. The HKMM was being managed as a tight ship by a no-nonsense Museum Director supported by a keen Board which also had its sights much farther afield towards expanding the HKMM into better and larger premises with more visitors and with more reliable financial structure being put in place.

11. The final 4 years of HKMM at Murray House from 2008 to 2012 (there was a short extension of the 6 years lease) was marked by two major matters of significance. The first is the most challenging Project for the expanded museum at Pier 8 (a combination of seeking larger Central premises with the financial and material support from the HK Government).  This covered the period from 2008 until the move out of Murray House in mid-2012.  Huge amount of work had to be undertaken as will be described later, including the challenging exercise of raising a new Endowment Fund of $100 Million. The other matter of significance is the resignation of Dr. Stephen Davies as Museum Director at the end of 2010 and the immediate succession to that post by Richard Wesley. There was a successful smooth handover, as Richard Wesley was understudying for a few months prior to the handover and Stephen Davies stayed on for two years, as a special Consultant, to assist in the complex work of creating the new HKMM at Pier 8 and ensuring the smooth closing of Murray House operation and the successful launch of the museum at Pier 8.

 

The Establishment of HKMM at Pier 8, 2008-2013

12. The Board Minutes of 2007 show that there were regular Board discussions on the matter of visitors numbers, the remote location and the necessity for future growth.  The hope of the Board was that a good central location with larger premises would enable the Museum to realize its ambitious long term goals of excellence and sustainability.

13. On 2nd of June 6th 2007, Henry Tang (the Chief Secretary) and his wife Lisa came to visit the Museum at the Museum’s invitation.  It was the first visit, after the September 2005 Opening, by a high Government official.  The Trustees (CC Tung and wife Harriet, George Chao and daughter Sabrina) and the Board Directors (MH Liang and William Waung) gave the visitors a warm welcome with a guided tour conducted by the Museum Director. It was a very successful visit as even the ladies visitors were impressed. At the lunch after the tour, Trustees and Board Directors intimated to the Chief Secretary how much more could be done by the Museum for Hong Kong if only larger and more central premises together with Government support could be secured. Without anyone knowing it at that time, the seeds of the future HKMM at Pier 8 were planted.

14. By the greatest of fortune, in September that same year, it came to the knowledge of the Museum that a substantial part of Pier 8 by the Hong Kong Harbour has become available and that the Government was inviting tender for a restaurant at Pier 8.  By letter dated 4th October 2017, CC Tung, as Chairman of the Trust wrote to Henry Tang seeking consideration for Pier 8 to be given to the HKMM as its new expanded Museum. By email dated 24th October 2007, Esther Leung, the Assistant Secretary of Home Affairs gave a favourite response to HKMM’s Pier 8 Proposal.   

15. HKMM immediately took steps to lobby the legislature of Hong Kong. Arrangement was made for the important Home Affairs Panel of the Legislative Council to visit the Museum. On the 4th of December 2007, the Home Affairs Panel visited the HKMM.  The visitors included key legislator such as Hon. Albert Ho, Vice Chair of the Home Affairs Panel. All LegCo visitors expressed great pleasure and satisfaction with the HKMM and what it had achieved in such a short time after the opening in 2005.  In answer to the query from the enthusiastic members of the Home Affairs Panel, the Trustees and the Board Directors present (CC Tung, Anthony Hardy, William Waung, Andrew Chen) expressed the wish that a formal presentation on Pier 8 for the HKMM, could be made by the HKMM at a sitting of the Home Affairs Panel.

16. The Home Affairs Panel granted that wish and on the 11th of January 2008, a formal hearing was held at LegCo when HKMM made its  presentation for Pier 8 as the new home of the HKMM. At the conclusion of the HKMM presentation, the Home Affairs Panel (Chair: Hon. Choy Sai Yuk) gave its 100% ALL parties support to the Pier 8 Project of HKMM.  History was made that day. For the first time in Hong Kong’s history, both the Government and the Legislature were united in giving public support to a private initiative for a museum to serve the public of Hong Kong.

17. The Government took heed of the Home Affairs Panel support and convened on 31st January 2008, a meeting between HKMM and 7 Government Departments to discuss in detail the Pier 8 Proposal of the HKMM.  At that meeting, the Government requested HKMM to present a formal document setting out the HKMM Pier 8 Proposal.

18. On 18th February 2008, HKMM presented to the Government a formal document entitled “Shifting Berth”.

19. The “Shifting Berth” Proposal of HKMM for Government support of Pier 8 comprised the following main features:-

(1) HKMM be granted a permanent home for its museum on Pier 8 in those parts of Pier 8 of 3,900 sq. meters comprising the eastern part of the two lower decks, the whole of the viewing deck and the whole of the roof deck and that the whole total area (“Pier 8 Premises”) to be converted into a multi-gallery maritime museum with a retail shop and a café-restaurant.

(2) To assist the capital cost of conversion of the aforesaid Pier 8 Premises, estimated at between $94.15 million and $124.85 Million, the Hong Kong Government will match donation raised by the community.

(3) The Hong Kong Government will provide such Pier 8 Premises initially on a lease of at least 10 years at a nominal rental.

(4) To assist in the subsequent operation of the HKMM entailing anticipated annual deficit of up to $8.9 Million (at constant 2008 prices), the Hong Kong Government subvents the Museum contingent on HKMM undertaking to continue efforts to raise alternative funding in cash and kind and that the HKMM establishes a case for Government funding support in building and operating the enlarged museum.

The essence of the proposed Government support is that both for   capital conversion costs and for operational deficit funding support, the Government will do so, on a matching basis, with equal support raised from the community.

20. Immediately following this, the HKMM began canvassing community support for the Pier 8 Project and in particular from the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

21. After prolonged studies, the Government was able to respond to “Shifting Berth” of the HKMM by a letter dated 12th September 2008 from K.S. So (Deputy Secretary of Home Affairs) to CC Tung and as further elaborated orally by Ms Polly Kowk of Home Affairs Department in a meeting with HKMM on 17th September 2008, whereby the HKMM was informed that the likely forthcoming offer of the Government to HKMM would take the form a capital conversion support of $58 Million (based on 50% of projected capital conversion cost) and a 5 year operational support based on 50% of the yearly operational deficit.  A subsequent letter dated 8th January 2009 from K.S. So to CC Tung sets out the full conditions of the Government’s offer.

22. Sensing that there was a good prospect of Pier 8 Project being realized, a HKMM Project Team was formed comprising Anthony Hardy, William Waung, Stephen Davies and Caterina Chor.  The first meeting of the Project Team was held on 1st December 2008.  The Project Team became the key link with all future activities relating to the Pier 8 Project, as would be seen when the essential 5 Categories of Project activities are considered at paragraph 27.  The early formation of this Project Team and its work from late 2008 turned out to be the foundation for the later success of the Pier 8 Project.   

23. The discussions between HKMM and the Jockey Club for capital and operational deficit support were difficult.  By 17th January 2009 it was apparent to HKMM (after the visit by the Deputy Chairman of the Jockey Club to the HKMM) that the Jockey Club would not be providing the substantial funding required for the Pier 8 Project. Formal rejection of the Pier 8 Project came to the Museum in early February 2009. It became clear to both the Government and the HKMM that the time clock was ticking for the likely closure of HKMM (Murray House lease with re-instatement obligations was expiring August 2010) and that for HKMM to continue, the Government would have to grant the full support to the proposed HKMM at Pier 8.

24. By letter dated 4th February 2009, CC Tung wrote to the Government accepting the January 2009 provisional offer and explained the difficulty of obtaining the necessary funding support from the Jockey Club and from the shipping industry. HKMM was asking for additional funding from the Government. By letter dated 23rd July 2009, KS So wrote to offer (subject to funding approval by the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council) a revised support of the Government in the following broad terms, on the detailed conditions set out therein:-

(a) A capital grant of $108.858 to cover the capital expenses for the relocation and renovation of Pier 8;

(b) A recurrent  funding support for 5 years capped at $4.429 million per year for operational support;

(c) Provision of Pier 8 Premises for the HKMM at nominal rent for 10 years.

This improved offer of the Government was accepted by HKMM on 3rd October 2009.

25. With the final agreement reached between the Government and HKMM, the stage was clear in late 2009 for all steps to be taken by the HKMM to ensure that the HKMM at Pier 8 would open in time, within budget and with all technical hurdles overcome. 

26. From the end of 2009 until the February 2013 Pier 8 Opening, it was all hands on deck at the HKMM. This is from the Chairman of the Trust, Chairman and members of the Board, the Museum Director, all the way down to the shop assistant at the Museum. Apart from the ordinary business of managing the Museum at Murray House, there was also the challenging new work of converting a ferry building into a new modern museum.  This also meant that all outside consultants and contractors (and also all Government officials) working with HKMM on this unique Pier 8 Project were expected to give their 100% which they did.  There were many outside consultants and contractors (and Government officials) who worked with and helped HKMM on this most exciting museum project, as can be seen from the brief chronological account below of the progress of the Project:-

01.12.2008     1st Meeting of the Project Team, HKMM (Anthony Hardy, William Waung, Stephen Davies and Caterina Chor)

Feb09/Jan10  Discussion and agreement on Government support.

28.01.2010     Appointment of Independent Quantity Surveyor, H.A.Brechin Co. Ltd.

01.02.2010     Launch by HKMM of Pier 8 Endowment Fund.

Apr.  2010      Start of design meetings with International Museum Designer, Haley Sharpe. 30.03.2010     Workstage 1, Inception/Feasibility of Pier 8 Project completed.

22.04.2010     Consultation with stakeholders began with District Council (no objection).

07.05.2010     Workstage 2, Schematic Design of Pier 8 premises completed.

26.06.2010     First Submission of General Building Plan to Building Department.

21.07.2010     Pier 8 Project support of the Harbourfront Commission.

13.08.2010     Town Planning Board Approval of Pier 8 Project (key & critical event).

17.09.2010     Workstage 3-detailed design complete, tendering & approvals under way.

30.09.2010     General Building Plans re-submitted to Building Department.

14.10.2010     Fire Services Commission Approval in principle.

08.12.2010     HKMM Establishment of Endowment Trust for the Endowment Fund (4 Trustees: CC Tung, Kenneth Koo, Andrew Chen and William Waung)

End   2010     General Building Plans approval.

01.02.2011     Finance Committee, LegCo Approval of Pier 8 Project (key & critical event).

01.06.2011     Appointment of Hsing Chong as construction Contractor.

01.06.2011     Lease of Pier 8 Signed by HKMM.

01.08.2011     Pier 8 Premises officially handed over to HKMM, Hsing Chong in control of Pier 8 Premises Site.

21.02.2012     Appointment Kingsmen as Fitting out & Installation Consultant (weekly meetings with the HKMM Project Team from 21st Feb. to 20 Aug. 2012)

Early  2012   Government Funding Agreement signed.

April  2012   Establishment Panel Text Review Committee (meetings April to Nov.  2012)  

25.02.2013   Official Opening HKMM at Pier 8 by the Chief Executive, Hon. C.Y. Leung.

27. This long and somewhat confusing chronology can be better understood if the whole Project of HKMM at Pier 8 (from  2008 to 2013) is divided into 5 categories (I, II, III, IV and V) and with different activity fitting into one of the 5 categories:-

I. Curatorial design of 15 new galleries, the Fitting Out and Installation of these galleries and the writing of the storyline and panel text of the galleries;

II. Funding Agreement with Government on Pier 8, Lease of Murray House and Lease of Pier 8;

III. Creation of an Endowment Fund to sustain the new Museum at Pier 8;

IV. Renovation of Pier 8 involving tendering and the building works;

V. Operational Closing down of Murray House Museum and Removal to Pier 8 Museum.

28. In terms of timing, the concept of the curatorial design of 15 new galleries [under I] and the Government funding agreement [under II] came before everything else.  The Endowment Fund [under III] with the concept of “Naming Rights” ($5 Million donation for a shipping donor’s name in a gallery) followed naturally from the creation of the 15 galleries.
29. The large demand made by the Pier 8 Project required the Museum to rationalize its very limited resources. The vital Project Team of HKMM comprising Anthony Hardy, William Waung, Stephen Davies and Caterina Chor was designated in late 2009.  This Project Team (with Richard Wesley joining the Project Team in early 2011) worked particularly closely with:

[under I and IV] the Lead Consultant (weekly meetings), the Design Consultants (as many times as might be necessary),

the building contractors;

[under I] the installation consultants (weekly meetings), and the Panel Text Review Committee;

[under I, II, III, IV and V] all other necessary bodies.

30. The Endowment Funding side [under III] was handled by the seasoned directors who had close business connection and relationship with the potential large shipping donors in Hong Kong and China.  Anthony Hardy, MH Liang and Andrew Chen of the Board were the main driving force of this very challenging exercise. A total Endowment Fund of $100 Million was raised.  Tribute must be paid to the recently deceased MH Liang who gave his time and his diminishing energy to meet, travel and talk to the Board and all potential donors including in particular Mainland Chinese companies. His contribution to the HKMM from its earliest days in 2004 up to the time of his severe illness in 2013 was enormous.
31. On the curatorial side of the Museum Galleries, Anthony Hardy laid the early foundation of the Museum.  With Pier 8, Anthony Hardy and his recently deceased wife, Susan Chen Hardy surpassed themselves [under I] and every week artefacts from their Collection were coming to the Museum. The Ancient China Gallery received their valuable contribution.  The China Trade Gallery at Pier 8 was named after them and the objects of the whole Gallery practically all came from their Collection either on loan or by donation.  Without doubt, it is the best gallery at the Museum and I daresay the best museum gallery on China Trade in the world.  Hong Kong and the HKMM are indebted to the Hardys for their invaluable contribution.  But the Museum must also acknowledge that the drive for the high quality of the 15 galleries came largely from Anthony Hardy and Stephen Davies who worked tirelessly with the Project Team to create the three floors of the Museum’s galleries.
32. Further in time into the final realization of the 15 Galleries [under I], the members of independent Panel Text Review Committee (Dr. Joseph Ting, Anthony Hardy, William Waung, Professor James Chin, the Hon. Jasper Tsang Tak Sing and KL Tam) were generous in giving their time and energy to ensure that the text panels (in English and Chinese) in the 15 Galleries would stand up to public scrutiny.
33. On the protracted seeking and obtaining of Government support for the Pier 8 Project [under II], the long and extensive work from 2007 to 2010 was done by the Board, the Trust and the Museum Director.  But the initiative, drive, persistence and ultimate success was largely due to the quiet but firm leadership of CC Tung, the Chairman of the Trust.  
34. It is finally also to be noted that because of the time gap between the expiry of the Murray House extended lease and the timing of the readiness of Pier 8 final fitting out and installation, the Museum unfortunately was not open to the public from mid-2012 to February 2013.     

 

HKMM at Pier 8, 2013-2015

35. Before the Official Opening of the HKMM at Pier 8 in February 2013, there was uncertainty as to what to expect with this Pier 8 conversion. The consensus from the international museum community present at the Opening and the public afterwards was that Hong Kong has gained the best museum in Hong Kong if not in Asia (see Lai See in the South China Morning Post) and that it was a most impressive first joint museum venture between the private enterprise (which is the essence of Hong Kong) and the Hong Kong Government.
36. The Museum in its layout was unusual, as by necessity it was forced to design around the shape and construction of a ferry pier building.  The Museum was housed on four floors.  The ground floor (D Deck) is the office, library, resource centre and storage. This is a half floor occupying the east side of the pier building.  The 1st Floor (C Deck) the next floor up (again half floor) is the start of the Museum Galleries.  The Museum Galleries then continue on the whole of the 2nd Floor (B Deck) which also houses the Reception, the Shop and the Special Exhibition Galleries.  The smaller Mezzanine floor (A Deck) contains the remaining Galleries.  The Café and outside Terrace is on the Mezzanine level but with access from outside stairs and lift.  The layout of the Museum (as shown in attached Museum Map) is not ideal but a non-purpose building presents its special characteristics which required huge amount of time and ingenuity for the Project Team and Haley Sharpe, the international museum designer, to arrive at an acceptable modern design for the HKMM at Pier 8.

37. The galleries of the Museum were divided into some 15 named Galleries and each Gallery was named after a particular donor (mostly from the Hong Kong & China shipping community).  From the very beginning, the Pier 8 Museum was designed with the Endowment Trust in mind and the objective was to raise an Endowment Fund of $100 Million.

38. The Museum Galleries are the following:-

39. A major gain of the new Museum at Pier 8 from Murray House is the large Special Exhibition space for temporary Exhibitions.  The Special Exhibition Gallery is on the B Deck, with two extra large galleries space (CY Tung Gallery and CS Koo Gallery) joined together as one single space (right next to the Museum Entrance and Reception), of double height ceiling with superb view of the Hong Kong Harbour looking east. It is a spectacular space for either special exhibitions or special receptions.

40. Taking full advantage of that Special Exhibition Gallery, the HKMM at Pier 8 put on the following temporary exhibitions (2013 to 2015):-

2013          Opening Exhibition: Pacifying South China Sea Scroll

2013          Wah Kwong Photographs: A Tale of Two Ventures

2013          Michael Palin/Basil Pao: Around the World Photographs

2013          Through the Lens of John Thompson

2014          Selden Map from the Bodleian Library, Oxford

2014          French May

2015          Made in Hong Kong – HSBC 150 Anniversary Exhibition

2015          Trading China: Pictures of Porcelain Production Qing China

41. The Selden Map Exhibition deserves a special mention.  It was the only Exhibition at Pier 8 curated by Dr. Jiao Tian-long (the Chief Curator) a scholar of high standing and experience during his one year tenure at the Museum.  It was the only Exhibition (up to 2015) not held at the Special Exhibition Gallery but at the Ancient China Gallery.  It was the only Exhibition held in conjunction with a Colloquium when some 20 plus scholars from the world gave top class papers which are now the subject of the Selden Map Book.  It was the only Exhibition which touches on our Museum’s Core Mission of the history of sea trade in the China Sea.  It was the only Exhibition which featured a borrowed world class treasure (the Selden Map) from a world class institution, the Bodlelian Library at no cost to us.  It was the only Exhibition where apart from the Selden Map and the ceramic treasures also borrowed from Oxford, the Museum was able to borrow from KL Tam (a HKMM Board Director) 6 outstanding maps from his map collection and combine them to create a fascinating exhibition.  It was the only Exhibition with limited cost to the Museum which gave so much pleasure and knowledge to our visitors as could be seen from glowing articles in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Economist.  This Selden Map Exhibition put the HKMM for the first time on the international stage.   

42. These special exhibitions and the new central location naturally brought more visitors to the HKMM at Pier 8.  The visitors figures from 2013 to 2015 at Pier 8 are:-

26/02/13 – 31/12/13   70,354

01/01/14 – 31/12/14   82,836

01/01/15 – 30/10/15   110,000 plus.

The average monthly visitor figure has more than doubled from the visitor figure at Murray House but it has still not yet reached the originally planned figures.

43. Many visitors however come to the Museum not just to see the special exhibitions.  A substantial public programme has been slowly put in place at the Pier 8 Museum, ranging from Saturday afternoon lectures to educational visits, concerts both classical and jazz, symposiums, conferences, receptions, dinners and functions.  The Museum however suffers from an handicap in not having dedicated space for lectures, conferences or educational workshops.  So simultaneous programmes could not be organized at the Museum, for example having a special talk for the Friends of the Museum and a musical concert.  But a good public programme team under the leadership of the experienced and energetic Caroline Lang (formerly of the V& A) is giving to the Hong Kong public a taste of what a good museum can do to enrich the life of the HK people.

44. The public has unlimited free access to Museum Café and the outdoor terrace.  It is now proving itself to be a popular venue.

45. With these much increased activities at the Museum, naturally there had been an explosion in staff and in the budget.  The staff of the Museum had gone up from under 10 at Murray House to well above 25 at Pier 8.  New divisions in the Museum have been created: marketing, fund raising, education, public programme, business development and security etc.

46. The explosion of the staff and of the activities at the Museum means of course an explosion in the budget.  The budget has jumped very quickly after the Opening, from the Murray House annual $5 Million to $18 Million at Pier 8.  The Annual Deficit has gone up and up from the annual $4 Million at Murray House, notwithstanding the Operational Deficit Subsidy of $4.429 Million from the Government.  That larger and larger annual deficit of course has to be covered by the Endowment Trust.

47. The new Museum Director Richard Wesley is more of a business manager than the first Museum Director, Dr. Stephen Davis who is a museum scholar dedicated to the Museum’s Core Mission and stringent economy.  Richard Wesley believes in new ventures (supported by outside funding) which necessitate outsource consultants, materials and substantial costs.  The Board and the Trust are therefore often involved in the discussion and control over new ventures, new staff, new consultants, ambitious budgets, reviews and fundraising on many fronts.

48. The governance at the Museum with such expansion has also undergone change.  The Board of Directors has expanded considerably from early 2010.  Anthony Hardy stepped down from the Board and the Trust in mid 2014 (having served for 10 years).  Ian Shiu, a senior director from the Swire Group (a key supporter of the Museum) has taken the demanding Chair of the Board and with quiet efficiency, greater control has been exercised over the financial affairs of the Museum.  The new Chairman has also gained the benefit of more professional support from new Board members such as Alan Ng, a senior accountant.  The Board in October 2015 consists of the following:-

Ian Shiu (Chairman)

YK Chen                Andrew Chen        William Waung

James Chin           Kenneth Koo         Alan Tung

David Koo            KL Tam (left 2005 & rejoined 2013)

Alan Ng

49. The Trust membership has also changed in that MH Liang and Anthony Hardy are no longer members.  Ian Siu joined the Trust in 2014. and Alan Ng joined the Trust in 2015.  The Endowment Trustees remain unchanged.

50. On the governance side, it was found necessary for the Museum to follow international high standards. There are now at the Museum, 4 working Committees, being the Audit Committee, the Collections Committee, the Investment Committee and the Education Committee, all working closely with the Board, the Trust and the Endowment Trust to ensure that governance at the Museum is of international high standard.

 

The Future – HKMM at Pier 8 (Enlarged)

51. The Pier 8 lease of 10 years commencing on 1st June 2011 will be running out in less than 6 years.  The HKMM needs more space for its many programmes, including lecture theatre, multiple educational space for children, families and adults, sufficient space for cultural events, additional galleries on science, environment, ocean and underwater archaeology and a good museum restaurant.  The unused and vacant remaining one third of Pier 8 would be the ideal additional space which the Government can grant to the HKMM.  The Museum is in the course of preparingfinalizing a 5 Year Business Plan (with a grant from Fidelity Foundation to prepare a Proposal on future expansion of the Pier 8 Museum). 

52. Hopefully at the time of such Proposal being put before the Government and LegCo, the Proposal would include a new Lease for the whole of Pier 8 for a period of 50 Years (25 Years plus renewal of 25 Year) and with a new enlarged Government support of a Capital  Grant for Conversion and a long term Endowment Grant on a matching basis to enable the Endowment Fund to be built up to a sufficiently high level, so that there will be diminishing necessity for the yearly operational deficit support.  All these will be the subject of intensive considerations and discussions by the Committees, the Board, the Trust and the Endowment Trust of the Museum.

53. The challenge is in the future and from past performance, HKMM is looking forward to expand further its horizon when it knows that the making of a brave and exciting future is always in the hands of all of us in Hong Kong.

 

William Waung

Endowment Trustee & Board Director, HKMM

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