Hong Kong Palace Museum opens to public, using unique culture heritage to tell China's story
Published: Jul 03, 2022 08:21 PM
The Hong Kong Palace Museum Photo: IC

The Hong Kong Palace Museum Photo: IC

The Hong Kong Palace Museum officially opened to the public on Sunday, showcasing more than 900 precious cultural relics selected from Beijing, including 166 first-class national cultural relics, to tell audience about China's long history and unique culture.

The museum was scheduled to open on Saturday but was postponed due to Typhoon Chaba.

It is reported that nearly 100,000 tickets have been sold or booked through different ticketing platforms. In addition, all free sessions for Wednesday in July have been fully booked, equal to about 11,000 free tickets.

Among the 914 artworks and relics borrowed from the Beijing Palace Museum, 166 of them are first-class cultural relics recognized as national treasures, accounting for 18 percent of all items on display at the museum in the West Kowloon Cultural District. This is the largest loan by the Palace Museum to another institution since its establishment in 1925.

Other national treasures also include ceramics such as an extremely rare Ru kiln brush washer from the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), and an imperial jade seal used by emperors during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

In a display list obtained by the Global Times, the exhibit includes well-known artworks such as the painting Rhapsody on the Luohe River Goddess by artist Gu Kaizhi of the Jin Dynasty (265-420) and Autumn Colors among Rivers and Mountains by Zhao Boju of the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

Many Hong Kong residents expressed their excitement about the opening of the museum on social media platforms. Four residents, dressed in Han traditional clothing, visited the museum on Sunday and said they wanted to mark the venue's opening in a special way. There were also some visitors wearing traditional Chinese dress seen touring the museum. 

The first person to enter the venue, surnamed Cai, said that he was excited to visit the museum, and wanted to appreciate ceramic crafts and other cultural relics, Hong Kong media reported.

The Hong Kong Palace Museum has nine exhibition halls featuring a distinctive architectural design that echoes the style of Beijing's Forbidden City, which houses the Beijing Palace Museum. The outside of the museum is modeled after a huge square bronze cauldron known as a 'ding.' The colors, however, are the same beige and dark red tones with cool gray embellishment of the Forbidden City in Beijing.

"Talking about the culture of either city or this museum in Hong Kong, everything relies on the motherland. Chinese traditional culture is the foundation and all the cultural elements and the local heritage in Hong Kong that we see now are based on that. The city was only later impacted by foreign cultures," Louis Ng, the curator of the new Hong Kong Palace Museum, said to the Global Times in an exclusive interview in June. "Many people may not know it, but Hong Kong has a deep connection with the Palace Museum," recalled Ng.

The Hong Kong Palace Museum is not a branch of Beijing's academy, it is a partnership, Wang Xudong, director of the Beijing Palace Museum, said to the People's Daily that the exhibition of the Hong Kong Palace Museum has many innovative perspectives, such as the dialogue between ancient and modern, and the Chinese and Western interpretation of horse culture, which all reflect the advantages and characteristics of Hong Kong as a place where Chinese and Western cultures meet.

Song Jirong, head of the restoration workshop at the Palace Museum, noted during an interview with Sing Tao Newspaper in March that to ensure that Hong Kong residents can enjoy the finest cultural relics, antiquity experts at the Palace Museum are assessing potential exhibits in batches. They will use high-tech equipment such as CT and infrared spectroscopy to conduct thorough examinations.  

Yeung Yun-hung, the Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, said in a speech at the opening ceremony that he believed that the museum would help the public understand Chinese culture and develop a sense of identity.

He also said he believes the Museum will become a hotspot in Hong Kong and will help boost the development of the local tourism economy. He stressed that the Hong Kong Palace Museum shows how Hong Kong, under the "one country, two systems", can use its unique cultural advantages to tell China's story, which is an important milestone in Hong Kong's future as a center of cultural exchanges between China and foreign countries.

Emily Zhan, a postgraduate student in Hong Kong told the Global Times on Sunday that she was very lucky to get the ticket. "Many of our friends did not get tickets on this opening day, and many of our friends who grew up in Hong Kong are very excited and looking forward to the exhibition. Hong Kong has made great contributions to the return of Chinese cultural relics, which is an honor for everyone living in Hong Kong. We are very proud to see so many treasures this time in Hong Kong, which is quite far away from Beijing," she said.