HK Palace Museum showcases nation's cultural treasures

By CHEN SHUMAN in Hong Kong | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-07-14 08:19
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A ceramic work featuring the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma. [PHOTO BY ZOU HONG/CHINA DAILY]

Inspired by tradition

While the new institution will complement the Beijing Palace Museum, Rocco Yim, the architect responsible for the project, stresses that he was inspired by Chinese tradition, but not enslaved by it.

Yim has designed many prestigious landmarks in Hong Kong, including Tai Kwun, the former Central Police Station compound that was transformed into an arts hub.

"The Hong Kong museum is not going to be a heritage building for another 200 or 300 years. For now, it acts as a piece of contemporary architecture that reflects the cultures of our time, both urban culture and the way we appreciate things. So, this building is part of a city and a piece of the jigsaw that has to fit perfectly with the original thinking behind the West Kowloon Cultural District," Yim said.

"At the Beijing museum, you can see traditional construction methods, building components and materials, whereas in the Hong Kong museum, we have used contemporary building materials and construction methods."

The design for the Hong Kong museum also incorporates several sustainable features. For example, it has a wider roof but a smaller base than other such buildings, mainly because Yim wanted to allocate as much open and green space as possible for public use at ground level.

Ng said the museum benefits from the city's abundant technological resources. For instance, the team invited Jeffrey Shaw, director of City University of Hong Kong's Center for Applied Computing and Interactive Media to design artworks for the institution. The Australian scholar has been involved in numerous art projects in China, including some in Dunhuang, Gansu province, a city with rich cultural heritage.

An interactive sensing device at the Hong Kong museum brings to life a painting themed on horses by Giuseppe Castiglione, an Italian artist who painted for the royal family during the Qing Dynasty. When visitors view this work, the horses appear to approach them.

Visitors can also create their own artistic "masterpieces" by using new media installations-combining elements of well-known paintings from various dynasties.

"This interaction with visitors is vitally important to us. The Hong Kong Palace Museum is not only an institution that focuses on cultural relics, but also a cultural site centered on visitors," Ng said.

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