Opening its doors for the first time in July 2022, the Hong Kong Palace Museum is the latest addition to the West Kowloon Cultural District. An exciting cultural landmark that has gotten all Chinese art, culture and history lovers elated, the museum is an institution dedicated to showcasing relics and artworks from the Palace Museum in Beijing, as well as treasures from around the world, serving as a platform for cross-cultural exchange.
So what can you expect from the Hong Kong Palace Museum? Here’s our guide to the city’s brand-new museum.
The museum is home to nine galleries with rotating exhibitions. Gallery 1 to 7 house thematic exhibitions that run for a year and more in duration. These galleries can be accessed with the General Admission ticket priced at HK$50. Gallery 8 and Gallery 9 are dedicated to special exhibitions, which run for a shorter, limited period of time, with exhibits rotating every 3 to 6 months. To visit all nine galleries, the admission fee is HK$120.
Get an up-close look at the way of life in the Forbidden City through curated collections of Chinese antiquities and treasures in Gallery 1 to Gallery 5. Each gallery features a different theme, guiding visitors to look at the history of the Qing court and traditional Chinese art and culture through a unique lens and narrative.
Gallery 1 serves as an introduction to the museum’s exhibitions and the Forbidden City’s history and culture as a whole while Gallery 2 provides a glimpse into what a typical day in court for an emperor was like 600 years ago, from dawn to dusk.
For those who share a liking of ceramics and chinaware, Gallery 3’s Clay to Treasure: Ceramics from the Palace Museum Collection will surely be a highlight. The gallery presents the most grade-one national treasures among the nine exhibitions, with exquisite pieces showcasing the epitome of traditional Chinese craftsmanship such as the headrest in the shape of a reclining boy and the rare 12 chrysanthemum-shaped dishes, which are both grade-one national treasures.
If painting and portraits are more up your street, Gallery 4 is dedicated to court portraits and the conservation of Chinese paintings. Gallery 5 invites visitors to look at Chinese antiquities from a design perspective. With local artist and designer Stanley Wong, a.k.a. anothermountainman, as the gallery artistic director, the exhibition is a distinctive dialogue between contemporary design and traditional crafts.
Other than showcasing Chinese antiquities and art loaned from the Palace Museum collection, the Hong Kong Palace Museum has also dedicated two of its opening exhibitions to recognise the specific history of Chinese art collecting in Hong Kong and the works of local artists. Gallery 6 presents Chinese antiquities and works of art from private collectors and other local museums. Gallery 7 displays new installation works by local multimedia and interdisciplinary artists reinterpreting the art and culture from the Forbidden City.
Gallery 8 and Gallery 9 are designated special exhibitions where the exhibits are rotated more frequently. The display duration is typically between 3 months and 6 months, so you can expect to see something new every time you visit.
The Hong Kong Palace Museum was established with a generous donation of HK$3.5 billion from The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities. Designed by renowned architect Rocco Yim, the man behind some of the most recognisable buildings in Hong Kong, the museum building itself is now one of the most distinctive buildings on the famous Victoria Harbour waterfront.
Contrasting the Palace Museum in Beijing, the Hong Kong Palace Museum takes on a more contemporary and Hong Kong perspective on traditional Chinese art and culture. The same principle applies to its architecture.
As you walk through the building, the unique architectural features of the Forbidden City is unmissable – from the exact hue of red that runs through the entire museum, the main entrance doors with a modern take on the traditional bronze studs found on doors in the Palace Museum, to the facade and roofing that pay tributes to the tile roofs in the Forbidden City.
Other Things to Do at the Hong Kong Palace Museum
If you prefer more hands-on experiences, head down to the LG/F of the museum. Taking up the entire floor and spanning 1,600 square metres, the Palace Academy is the largest dedicated museum learning space in Hong Kong. Regular movie screenings, talks by curators or specialists and performing art showcases are held in its 400-seat auditorium. The museum also holds regular workshops for all ages and abilities, focusing on anything from Chinese calligraphy and painting classes led by masters of the field to conservation workshops that will give you a taste of what it’s like to be a museum conservator.
With so much to see, one can easily spend an entire day admiring what is on display. When it’s time for some sit-down relaxation and refreshment, you can choose to go right by the waterfront at the back of the museum. There you will find three eateries – a coffee shop, a noodle bar and a French eatery specialising in crepes. The surrounding area making up the West Kowloon Cultural District also has plenty of spaces to eat, drink and be entertained.
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