Hong Kong is evolving. With two major museums opening in the last two years, the city has once again reaffirmed its status as a cultural hub that embraces contrasts: east meets west, new and old, tradition versus innovation. With established creative communities and a wealth of top-class arts venues, Hong Kong is the gateway to a world of culture – a city-sized canvas that is just waiting to be painted.
By celebrating its links with the past, Hong Kong provides fantastic opportunities to expand your cultural horizons. Take the Xiqu Centre: a modern version of Hong Kong’s Xiyuan theatres, this home of Cantonese opera stages accessible events for newcomers. The opera is also one of the traditions promoted by the Intangible Cultural Heritage Office via government initiatives and exhibitions across the city.
The long-awaited M+, Asia’s first global museum of contemporary visual culture, opened in 2021. The 65,000 sq m waterfront venue was designed by Herzog & de Meuron – the Swiss practice best known for London’s Tate Modern. Hong Kong Palace Museum followed last July, housing more than 900 historic treasures on loan from Beijing.
Both venues are part of West Kowloon Cultural District. Spread across 40 hectares of reclaimed land, it is one of the world’s largest cultural projects; a commitment to creativity in the heart of Hong Kong. While the structures are new, they are simply the latest example of a city that is committed to innovative solutions and placing culture at the centre of a global conversation.
Great artistic endeavours are rarely created in isolation. That’s why Hong Kong Tourism Board invited eight artists to work together on year-long multi-cultural projects. Highlights include Egg Tart, a 12-metre-wide mural depicting Hong Kong that co-creator Ilya Milstein describes as “a love letter to one city, co-written by two authors”. These collaborations emphasise the city’s unique ability to connect artists and enable cultural exchange.
Hong Kong is a place of light and wonder. As the sun glints off Victoria Harbour, it illuminates the many buildings and alleyways, giving a sense that inspiration lurks around every corner of this City Canvas. That is certainly true in Sham Shui Po, a dynamic district of artisan workshops and fledgling art spaces. Elsewhere, in the heart of Central, the historic architecture of the former Central Police Station compound forms the basis of the Tai Kwun cultural quarter. It is situated close to H Queen’s, a 24-storey, purpose-built skyscraper that is an art district in the sky, home to big ticket galleries, auction houses and art-themed restaurants.
Bustling enclaves of creativity are found across Hong Kong. The success of Para Site, an artist-run space turned fully-fledged contemporary art centre, has made North Point a popular haunt for creatives, while over on the southside of Hong Kong Island, Wong Chuk Hang and Aberdeen are the best spots to find the independent galleries that are exhibiting the city’s future art stars.
“Hong Kong is a place of light and wonder... There is a sense that inspiration lurks around every corner of this City Canvas”
Hong Kong’s holistic art scene has developed organically. The city’s first art gallery opened in 1962 on Chatham Road; although short-lived, its spirit lives on in the Hong Kong Museum of History opposite. Art collectives soon sprang up; the avant-garde Circle Art Group may have ceased in 1971 but the Visual Arts Society turns 50 this year. Such frameworks provide a strong foundation for the next generation of artistry to flourish.
While Hong Kong has a rich creative heritage, it also provides a platform for a world of culture. The recent Hong Kong edition of the Swiss fair Art Basel welcomed 177 galleries from 32 countries, while French May is a city-wide celebration of Gallic culture and Art Central showcases new talent. More than just events, these are opportunities to forge creative relationships that will spark joy for many years to come.