Application deadline: 15 December 2020
Location: Hong Kong Maritime Museum, Hong Kong
The Hong Kong Maritime Museum (HKMM) enjoys perhaps one of the most beautiful locations of any museum in the World. It is situated next door to the iconic Star Ferry, right on Hong Kong harbour, and comprises 45,000 square foot of exhibition and cafeteria space. The HKMM was established in 2004 by Hong Kong’s thriving shipping community to showcase Hong Kong’s extraordinary and fascinating maritime history. The HKMM, a registered charity, is also backed by the HK Government and is the only major museum in Hong Kong to enjoy such public and private backing. Its current Museum Director (MD), Richard Wesley, is returning to Australia at the end of 2020 after 10 successful years so the HKMM Board is now seeking applications for a new MD. The Board is looking for an experienced executive who would relish the challenge of making the HKMM “the best museum in Asia”, and will examine the experience or profile of candidate MDs in the following key areas:
The HKMM contains over 5,000 objects in its permanent collection, of which around 1200 are on display at any one time. The HKMM also hosts frequent temporary exhibitions and mini-displays and contains a Research Centre, including a library of maritime publications, both historic and current. Key curatorial skills sought include: creativity in developing interesting narratives and in presenting exhibitions and objects in ways that arouse the interest of the public and/or scholars; ability to work with designers, fabricators and others to execute attractive displays of objects and public exhibitions; sound maintenance of the existing collection; a sharp eye for new objects that would enhance the Museum’s collection. The HKMM also maintains an active Collections Committee to enable the engagement of senior experienced local figures with Museum staff.
“Maritime” scholarship and a deep wide-ranging general curiosity
Although “Maritime” potentially covers a very wide range of subjects, the HKMM currently specializes mainly in the history of China’s trades and the ships in those trades. But the HKMM has recently won a major award to develop a Marine Science Centre (which will enhance its ESG -and especially its environmental- credentials) and it may also expand its collection and display into new subject areas. The MD gives talks and lectures from time to time on a range of maritime subjects.
The HKMM is planning to significantly increase its public visitation as well as online interest in the HKMM. Digital awareness is a critical aptitude for the MD, not only to enhance the HKMM’s online presence but also to enhance its visitor experience – for example by increasing the interactivity of HKMM displays (crucial for children) – and to better measure visitor interest in different objects and stories.
The HKMM is regularly visited by school and community groups and seeks to infuse its narratives, which mainly relate to its physical objects, into school curricula. The HKMM plans to significantly increase its educational activities in future and maintains an active Education Committee, which includes senior local figures to assist its engagement with schools and universities.
The HKMM offers a magnificent space for hosting all sorts of events including fashion shows, industry conferences and private functions. Event income is crucial to the museum.
The HKMM holds a ten year lease from the Hong Kong Government in respect of its building, which must be maintained well as a safe destination for its visitors. A major upgrade of the museum building will take place to accommodate new marine science spaces during 2020-22. The HKMM also has major redevelopment potential to expand its floorspace by expanding into adjacent properties. These plans will need the consent of the Hong Kong Government, with whom the MD is expected to foster close relations.
This is critical to the museum. The MD must be able to mix easily with senior members of the Hong Kong business and government community and to raise funds for the museum. This requires strong social skills and imagination. Whilst the HKMM is much loved by leading local shipping companies, it has explicit objectives to widen its support base within Hong Kong and China. The HKMM maintains a Fundraising Committee to assist the MD in this respect.
HKMM Ltd, which is managed by the MD, reports to the Museum Trust. The HKMM also submits its financials and key operating metrics to the HK Government.
The MD must be able to manage both up and down. The MD reports to the Museum Board and to the Trustees. The MD will also inspire and lead a multifunctional museum management team which includes specialists in curatorial and marine science; education; digital and marketing; fundraising; event and catering management; the Museum shop (physical and online); building security and property management; public space management and financial management. The HKMM also has an enthusiastic band of volunteers and docents who assist its engagement with the public. The MD is expected to work closely with al supporters of the Museum.
Languages. The MD must be able to speak and write fluently in English, and preferably also in Cantonese and in Mandarin.
The Board would strongly encourage applicants who are excited by this singular and exciting opportunity. The Board recognizes that few candidates will excel in all the above listed areas and are especially looking for a candidate who can blend sufficient aptitude in these with energy, drive, determination, intellect and charm. The position carries a competitive salary and expatriate benefits.
Applicants are invited to send to MD2021@hkmaritimemuseum.org their CV and a covering email which explains both their interest in the HKMM and their suitability for the role of Museum Director and their proposed starting date. Applications should be received by December 15th 2020.