The majority of public museums in Hong Kong are run by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD).They are staffed by highly qualified professionals, have important collections, and hold excellent exhibitions accompanied by outreach and educational activities. Having said that, he Hong Kong museums scene as a whole lacks the vibrancy and international recognition that it deserves given the aforementioned strengths.
The government is now pouring resources into a major extension and renovation of the Hong Kong Museum of Art and renewal projects for other major museums. In our view, this makes it timely to revisit the issue of museum governance as the government’s investment into the physical infrastructure of our museums sector would only be enhanced and reinforced if accompanied by improvements in the governance model of LCSD museums.
In this report, we submit that the full potential of Hong Kong’s museums can only be unleashed under a publicly funded, autonomously managed governance model. We surveyed some of the most prominent and most visited public museums around the world, revealing an unmistakable trend toward the adoption of a publicly funded, autonomously managed mode of governance, often through legislation and reform. Examples include museums in London, Melbourne, Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong.
This would offer at least three distinct advantages: 1) integration with the broader community through the Board system; 2) diversification in sources of museum funding; and 3) openness, diversity and flexibility in human resources.
While a change in the mode of governance is not the be all and the end all, the establishment of a statutory Museums Boards, accompanied by the enabling legislation, would enliven our public museums, open doors for management discretion and breathe new energy into the entire sector, resulting in improvements on all fronts, ultimately for the benefit of the general public.
Professor Chang Hsin-Kang
Research Council Member of Our Hong Kong Foundation
Former President-Emeritus of City University of Hong Kong
and Chairman of Cultural and Heritage Commission of Hong Kong (2000-2003)
Mr. Pong Chun Yee David
Advisor of Our Hong Kong Foundation
Executive Director of Shiu Wing Steel Limited
Pauline Yeung Researcher of Our Hong Kong Foundation
Lily Yuen Former Assistant Researcher of Our Hong Kong Foundation
Natalie Lau Assistant Researcher of Our Hong Kong Foundation