Suhanya Raffel

Suhanya Raffel, Museum Director, M+, Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Suhanya Raffel. Museum Director, M+, Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Years professionally involved in the contemporary art museum field: 35 plus years

Have you served on another board or organization similar to CIMAM? Yes

If so, where and how long have you served? CIMAM Board for 6 years

Short bio. Describe also your involvement with CIMAM and the museum community:

I am the museum director of M+, and have overseen the preparation, delivery and successful operation of this important major institution in Asia. We have had 10 years of being a museum without walls and are now a key cultural institution in Hong Kong with over 1 million visitors in our opening months.

I have served on the CIMAM Board for 6 years, bringing my experience and diverse perspectives to the Board to help steer and prepare advice to others on of what it means to deliver major infrastructure, especially during pandemic times. It has been an extremely challenging and rewarding time, a time where museums are not only critical to society but are precious places of respite, gathering, social cohesion, and well being.

In the works that I have been undertaking in Hong Kong, I have had to manage complex negotiations to ensure that the integrity of the museum's work was understood and respected while ensuring that the curatorial vision was presented to a broad and diverse public. We had to open our very large institution, with a range of stakeholders to be managed, during a global pandemic proved extremely challenging. Yet the fact that this was managed as a major community celebration in Hong Kong, with record visitor numbers, has proven the worth of the institution, captured the imagination of our city and ensured that there is now a great degree of understanding that museums play a significant civic role.

My involvement as a CIMAM Board member contributed to a sense of professional belonging, including sharing with colleagues my challenges as well as successes. CIMAM brings an important community together while providing strong support to our sector. Its growing inclusion of professionals from across the world has supported CIMAM as an inclusive, open and diverse organization, that is interested to expand and learn.

Motivation Statement: How can you contribute to CIMAM's mission and strategic goals by being a Member of the Board? (i.e strategy, membership, fundraising, governance, network in strategic regions, availability, knowledge or skills in a specific area):

CIMAM is the most diverse and active group of museum professionals that I have had the honour to work with over the past 6 years.

I see my role on the Board as bringing my experience of working in Asia and Hong Kong, together with networks from across the region of Asia and beyond, to the Board. As we face critical challenges, which includes a deepening climate crisis paired with far more complex social and political environments across the world, the role of the CIMAM Board is to steer and advise colleagues is now more essential than ever before. My voice amongst this creative and energetic group is one that, I hope, brings balance and insight from the particular perspectives of the fast growing museum sector in Asia.

I am also acutely aware that the CIMAM Board must ensure cross cultural and broad experience. I believe that I would continue to bring unique perspectives to the CIMAM Board that ensured my deep knowledge and experience of being a major institutional director from Hong Kong can be applied to the areas of advocacy, including at ICOM, as well as strategic thinking on wide ranging issues including social relations as well as governance concerns together with the others on the Board.

I would be honored to continue to serve for a final 3 year term on the CIMAM Board from Hong Kong.

Describe briefly the expectations of your involvement as a CIMAM Board member and how you envision CIMAM's priorities in the next years:

The CIMAM Board has substantially engaged with critical issues facing our museum sector including embracing the opportunities afforded by the digital world, building closer networks through rapid response digital forums that expanded on how to manage strategies around the pandemic, political challenge, climate crisis and most recently supporting our Ukrainian museum colleagues during times of war.

These priorities continue to be critical. How to manage these issues and continue to offer our museum colleagues sustainable advice, support essential voices, and ensure open communication and exchange will be CIMAM's remit.

During a time of intense polarization and challenging socio political environments, keeping our museum sector cohesive and united will also be a primary goal. We need to ensure that our institutions continue to be open innovative places of exchange with knowledge built on secure collections and exhibition programs driven by professional integrity.

To remind ourselves of our successes is as important as we face challenges because together we have become a cohesive, coherent and highly creative group of advocates for our institutions across the world.