On December 23, Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) announced a new partnership with Beijing’s Palace Museum, surprising many, including WCKDA board members who had only allegedly learned of the decision in November. The two institutions will collaborate in a new 10,000-square-meter museum planned for a 2022 inauguration in the West Kowloon District, called the Hong Kong Palace Museum (HKPM), with long-term loans of imperial Chinese art from Beijing. HKPM’s planned foothold along the West Kowloon promenade will complement M+, the much-anticipated visual arts institution—designed to be one of the largest museums of 20th and 21st century art—with a scheduled opening date of 2019.
The original Palace Museum is situated within Beijing’s Forbidden City and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was China’s imperial palace from 1420 until the termination of dynastic rule in 1912. It holds an immense collection of 1.8 million artifacts, including ink paintings, ceramics, calligraphy, bronze objects, embroidered works, textiles and other items that were accumulated by the royal families of the Ming and Qing dynasties.
Aside from staging traveling exhibitions in domestic establishments, the Palace Museum has also made strides abroad. As part of the Qatar Museums Authority’s “Years of Culture” exchange program, the two national institutions staged a joint exhibition in Doha’s IM Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art. “Treasures of China” (9/7–1/7/17) presented Chinese ceramics across the ages, as well as several specimens of the famed terracotta warriors.
Both HKPM and M+ represent a promising new direction in Hong Kong’s museum culture. One day after WKCDA’s announcement, the organization’s chairperson Carrie Lam, who is also chief secretary for administration of the Hong Kong government, said, “The HKPM is not only in line with the vision of the West Kowloon Cultural District to be the cultural hub of Hong Kong, but is also highly complementary to its core arts and cultural facilities under construction or planning, notably M+, as a rich tapestry of Chinese and Western art in both traditional and modern genres would be showcased by the two museums.”
The HKPM’s capital cost of HKD 3.5 billion (USD 451 million) will be donated by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. The funds will go toward the construction of permanent galleries dedicated to the Palace Museum’s collection and supplementary facilities for provisional programs. Its prime waterfront location promises an incredible, diverse experience for visitors when both HKPM and M+ are fully operational. Other planned features in the promenade include a lyric theater, music center and Chinese opera center.
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