This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Hong Kong Museum of Art. To celebrate this memorable occasion, the museum has organised an exhibition entitled Collecting for 50 Years - The People and Their Stories, which will be held from tomorrow (October 12) until March 31, 2013. The exhibition will share with the public 50 stories of people and episodes associated with the development of the museum over the past 50 years, and pays tribute to those who have made selfless contributions to the museum.
Addressing the opening of the exhibition, the Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Mrs Betty Fung, noted that as the citys first and only major art museum, the Hong Kong Museum of Art has gained great support from collectors, artists and sponsors over the past 50 years, and has held many memorable exhibitions and programmes.
Mrs Fung said that the museum has built up a comprehensive collection of about 16,000 items. In celebrating its 50th anniversary, the museum will reveal 50 stories covering people or episodes, including the birthday gift offered to the museum by Ms Irene Chou, a treasure which was lost in the chaos of war and found again, as well as the stories of various donors. These stories are to look back at the museums work and history.
Located at Edinburgh Place, the Hong Kong City Hall officially opened in March 1962. The top three floors of the High Block, occupying an area of 11,000 square metres, were allotted for the City Museum and Art Gallery - the forerunner of the Hong Kong Museum of Art. In 1974, the City Museum and Art Gallery was split into the Hong Kong Museum of History and the Hong Kong Museum of Art. In 1975, the Hong Kong Museum of History moved to commercial premises in Star House, Tsim Sha Tsui, whereas the Hong Kong Museum of Art remained atop the City Hall building until 1991.
The establishment of the City Museum and Art Gallery not only provided a convergent platform for Western and Chinese art, but also a cradle for local artists and the development of Hong Kong art. The new premises of the Hong Kong Museum of Art in Tsim Sha Tsui was built in 1991 and officially opened by Lady Wilson on November 15 that year. With a total gross floor area of 17,530 square metres the Hong Kong Museum of Art houses galleries to display its permanent collections, namely Contemporary Hong Kong Art, Chinese Antiquities, Historical Pictures and Chinese Fine Art, as well as a gallery for special exhibitions to feature arts from around the world.
The museum has built its collection with a focus on Hong Kong but also looks to the cultures of China and its periphery. The collection, covering Chinese antiquities, Chinese calligraphy and painting, historical pictures, and southeast Asian ceramics with Chinese cultural influences, was acquired through purchases and donations over the years. Donated artefacts and art objects make up 48 per cent of the entire museum collection, which reflects its efforts and success in promoting a culture of donation among collectors.
The Xubaizhai Collection, one of the museums major collections, consists of more than 600 representative works of Chinese painting and calligraphy donated in 1989 by Mr Low Chuck Tiew (1911-1993), a famous art connoisseur and collector. It encompasses masterpieces from the major schools of the Ming and Qing period. The collection of masterpieces of the Wu and Songjiang Schools, the Six Masters, Shitao, Bada Sharen and the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou are prized as a world-class treasure trove of Chinese painting and calligraphy art.
Among the collection of Chinese antiquities, the donation of more than 1,200 pieces of tea ware, porcelains and seals by Dr K S Lo (1910-1995) is prominent. In order to showcase this donation and promote Chinese tea culture, the Hong Kong Museum of Art established the Museum of Tea Ware in 1984 as a branch museum, the first of its kind on such a theme.
Promoting Hong Kong art is a core mission of the Hong Kong Museum of Art, and art events such as the Hong Kong Art Biennial Exhibition and the Hong Kong Contemporary Art Awards were organised as a platform for displaying local contemporary visual art. The museum is also committed to promoting individual Hong Kong artists and has been active in organising solo exhibitions for the artists. Recent names include Li Yanshan, Wong Po-yeh (Huang Bore), Ding Yanyong, Hon Chi-fun, Wucius Wong, Lin Jen-tong, Ho Chat-yuen, Lau Ping-han and Ha Bik-chuen. In 2008, the museum launched the Hong Kong Art: Open Dialogue exhibition series with guest curators and themes covering digital art, ink art and the works of local artists.
Since 2000, the museum has established close partnerships with renowned overseas museums, resulting in notable exhibitions such as Impressionism - Treasures from the National Collection of France, Artists and Their Models - Masterpieces from the Centre Pompidou and others, which have been well-received by the public. In the genre of Chinese calligraphy and painting, the museum has jointly organised exhibitions with the Shanghai Museum, the Museum of Liaoning Province and the Palace Museum in Beijing. One of the most memorable was The Pride of China: Masterpieces of Chinese Painting and Calligraphy of the Jin, Tang, Song and Yuan Dynasties from the Palace Museum jointly organised with the Palace Museum, Beijing, which showcased many national treasures and became a talk-of-the-town event.
The Hong Kong Museum of Art is located at 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. It is open from 10am to 6pm daily and from 10am to 7pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. It is closed on Thursdays (except public holidays). Admission is $10 and a half-price concession is available to full-time students, senior citizens and people with disabilities. Admission is free on Wednesdays.
For further information, call 2721 0116 or visit the Hong Kong Museum of Arts website at www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/Museum/Arts/en/exhibitions/exhibitions01_jul12_01.html.