A Hong Kong version of Beijing’s Palace Museum – located in the heart of the Forbidden City – will make its debut in June 2022, the mainland attraction’s director has said, moving the city’s troubled art hub a step closer to its goal of simultaneously showcasing both Western and Chinese culture.
Two Hong Kong sources confirmed the opening on Wednesday, while a West Kowloon Cultural District Authority board member said curators for the local project were in talks with Beijing about the possibility of showcasing exhibits not previously displayed in the city.
The Beijing venue’s director, Wang Xudong, revealed the date in the museum’s publication while citing his colleague’s collaboration with Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan in strengthening the cohesion of Chinese culture.
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“The Palace Museum first signed an exchange and collaborative agreement with Hong Kong’s … Leisure and Cultural Services Department in 2012 and had the groundbreaking ceremony of the Hong Kong Palace Museum in May 2018. [It is] expected to officially open at the end of June in 2022,” he said in the article, which ran in full on the website of People’s Daily, a government mouthpiece.
In 2016, the city signed a HK$3.5 billion (US$451 million) deal with Beijing to create a replica of the capital’s celebrated Palace Museum at the West Kowloon Cultural District.
Hong Kong’s initial portfolio of relics will be supplied by its capital counterpart, which has 1.86 million pieces.
The 40-hectare (99 acres) West Kowloon Cultural District, set on the Victoria Harbour waterfront, was created in hopes of making Hong Kong a leading cultural destination.
The initial government grant for the project was HK$21.6 billion, though some have said cost overruns could eventually take the total investment past HK$70 billion.
Last month, the highly touted project suffered an acrimonious shake-up as its CEO, Duncan Pescod, learned he was being forced out and a search for a new chief executive commenced.
So far, its M+ Pavilion, Xiqu Centre, Freespace, and Art Park, are up and running. The Post earlier reported that M+, the West Kowloon museum of visual culture, was now expected to open in autumn 2021.
Plans for the Palace Museum, which is being funded by the Jockey Club, which manages the city’s gambling, were heavily touted at 2017 events marking the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty.
Construction of its superstructure commenced in April 2019, with the venue aiming to get its occupation permit by mid-2021, and open its doors by an unspecified date in mid-2022.
The Post has reached out to the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority for comment.
Board member and pro-establishment politician Chris Ip Ngo-tung said the museum’s launch on the heels of the M+ opening would be a major step towards the goal of showcasing both traditional and contemporary art, as well as bringing together Chinese and Western cultural elements.
“It will boost the traditional visual arts elements well and help display Chinese tradition and history,” he said.
Ip also said he had learned the Hong Kong curating team was in talks with Beijing about the possibility of exhibiting pieces with strong historical value that had not been displayed in the past.
“Among the exhibits in Beijing’s Palace Museum, there are a lot of exhibits that we have never seen,” he said.