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Aric Chen steps down from founding Lead Curator role at M+

Architecture Art International News
Aric Chen is stepping down from M+, a Hong Kong institution he helped found. (Courtesy West Kowloon Cultural District)
Aric Chen is stepping down from M+, a Hong Kong institution he helped found. (Courtesy West Kowloon Cultural District)

Architecture curator and former AN columnist Aric Chen has stepped down from his role as the lead curator for design and Architecture at M+ in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District and has taken on the title of curator-at-large at the museum. In addition to M+, Chen will be focusing on other curatorial projects as well as teaching, including guest curating the 2018 Beazley Designs of the Year exhibition at London’s Design Museum, from his new base in Shanghai.

M+, first proposed in 2007 but currently without a permanent home, is focused mainly on the visual culture of Asia, in a global context, throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. The museum’s collection includes a wide variety of pieces including paintings, architectural models, furniture, digital art, performance art, and more.

Updated rendering of the new M+ building. (Courtesy Herzog & de Meuron)

Following an international design competition in 2013, Herzog & de Meuron were chosen to design M+’s permanent home in West Kowloon. The 700,000-square-foot waterfront museum will resemble a ceramic-and-glass-clad, upside down “T” once complete and will hold over 180,000 square feet of exhibition space, performance spaces, cafes, offices, three theaters, and a rooftop terrace. Construction has been fraught with delays, and there have been fears of cost overruns as the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority fired its main contractor earlier this month. While construction has been put on pause for six weeks as the authority searches for a replacement, the managing body has maintained that the museum will still open in 2020 as previously promised.

Chen, who had served as M+’s lead curator since 2012, oversaw the formation of the museum’s design and architecture department and its acquisitions. He also led the establishment of the department’s programming and curatorial team.

Chen also served as the first creative director for Beijing Design Week from 2010 to 2012.  His online exhibition NEONSIGNS.HK, an interactive catalog of Hong Kong’s vibrant neon sign ecosystem, won Chen praise when it was released in 2013, and it won a Webby. Chen’s most recent book, Brazil Modern: The Rediscovery of Twentieth-Century Brazilian Furniture, is available now.

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