Hong Kong Palace Museum Board Members Appointed
By Julee WJ Chung
On March 2, the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) announced the appointment of 14 board members who will lead the curatorial mission, strategies, policies and guidelines of Hong Kong’s Palace Museum under the newly established Hong Kong Palace Museum limited company. The appointment terms are from March 1, 2018, to December 31, 2019. The museum has been slated to open in 2022 in the West Kowloon Cultural District.
The board will be led by chairman Bernard Charnwut Chan, who is also convenor of Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuetngor’s Executive Council; and vice chairman Lee Chackfan, formerly the pro-vice chancellor of the University of Hong Kong. Among its other members are several figures who already serve on the WKCDA board, such as architect and ink-painter Raymond Fun Wingkee; chairman of the Yau Tsim Mong district council Chris Ip Ngotung; painter and designer Kan Taikeung; and WKCDA chief executive officer Duncan Pescod. The board will also comprise government officials including undersecretary for home affairs Florence Hui Hiufai; permanent secretary for home affairs Betty Fung; and director of the leisure and cultural services department Michelle Li Meisheung. Additionally, academics such as Peter Lam Yipkeung, Harold Mok Karleung, historian Joseph Ting Sunpao, as well as philanthropists Nisa Bernice Leung Wingyu and Nancy Maria Lee Chang will be represented.
Two of these members, Betty Fung and Duncan Pescod, began their term of appointment on November 30, 2017, and will continue to hold their post until November 29, 2020.
The Palace Museum is a HKD 3.5 billion (USD 447 million) cultural project that was borne from a collaborative agreement between the WKCDA and the Palace Museum in Beijing. Funded by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, it will display artifacts of Chinese art and culture from the imperial collection of the Palace Museum, and comprises a construction area totaling a colossal 30,500 square meters, with 7,600 square meters dedicated to exhibiting gold, bronze and jade artifacts, paintings and ceramic objects, as well as a segment on life in Chinese imperial courts.
The Palace Museum is a controversial addition to the West Kowloon arts hub. When its plans were first revealed in December 2016, it stirred public opinion for the lack of public consultation regarding the project’s arrangement and architectural design, which was only presented to Hong Kong’s citizens months after its conception. By contrast, developments to the West Kowloon Cultural District typically undergo several rounds of public consultations—a practice which has been established since 2007.
The museum was formally proposed in 2016, as part of celebrations commemorating the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China in July 2017. Upon its announcement, South China Morning Post reported the project as a “cultural coup for Hong Kong” by the mainland Chinese State. Amid rising political tensions, a former member of the legislative council led dozens of people in a protest against the project, which he called “a dictation from China.” However, former chief curator of Hong Kong Museum of Art Tang Hoichiu argued for the museum’s launch, saying: “[The artifacts] are priceless treasures that are sought after around the world and deserve to be appreciated on their own cultural and aesthetic value […] Those who are for or against the Palace Museum being in Hong Kong may have their points, but politics should not enter into one’s appreciation of treasures.”
Julee WJ Chung is the assistant editor of ArtAsiaPacific.
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