“So close but not been” sounds familiar? That was the case with the Hong Kong Museum of Art (HKMOA), which is on the waterfront on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong Harbour. The museum was established in 1962, but not in its present position. In fact, the museum occupied a number of buildings and only arrived at its present own purpose-built position in 1991. The museum was closed from 2015 to 2019 for a major expansion and renovation. There were additional delays and periods of closure over 2019 and early 2020. This explains why I never got around to visiting the museum.
The museum presently holds over 17,000 items that represent Hong Kong and the wider world. Its focus is on representing Hong Kong as a world city of contrasts and being the custodian of the fine arts. If you live in Hong Kong for any period of time (as opposed to a weekend city break, cruise stop or business trip for a few days) you will understand this city beyond the sky-scrapers of glass and steel, or the shopping malls and the many stunning views. I have known Hong Kong as a visitor since 1985, but I have been living here since 2016 and love the city for its multitude of what I call secrets. The museum explores these “secrets” - facets of the city in terms of its collection and the way “Hong Kongers” and people from elsewhere see the city as reflected in art. From paintings and ceramics, through calligraphy and photography to interactive art.
The expansion has been a huge success and there seems to be an attempt to be more diverse in the new team of expert advisors, something that I believe has been missing in many Hong Kong museums under the government umbrella cultural organisation. This improvement is very evident in the labelling, publications, hand-outs and in the content itself. Those historical and social “secrets” of Hong Kong come to light through art in an enjoyable way for all visitors.
Museum Information: Tel +582 2721 0116.
Location: 10 Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. Hong Kong SAR. China.
Opening Hours: Monday-Wednesday and Fridays 10:00-18:00. Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays 10:00-19:00. Christmas Eve and Chinese New Year 10:00-17:00.
Closed: Thursdays and the first two days of Chinese New Year. The museum is also subject to closure for public safety (typhoon warnings, etc).
Note - No flash photography.
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Hailing from Mombasa, Kenya. Cliff's research interests began in 1982 when while working in “the Gulf” when he first travelled Asia following the routes of the epic voyages of the Fifteenth century Chinese admiral Zheng He. He later graduated with a BA(Hons) in Geography with Asian Studies in Northern Ireland. After a career in tourism Cliff became a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG). He returned to historical research in 2001 on a variety of themes leading to an exhibition at the Royal Geographical Society on the Bombay Africans (2007) and is regarded as the world specialist on the subject. Cliff was Honorary Research Assistant to Royal Holloway's Geography Department (2011-2014) and Visiting Research Assistant to Dalian Maritime University, China (2011-2015). He was researcher-curator on the Bait-Jelmood Museum, Qatar (2013-2016) and research-curator for the National Museum of Qatar, specialising in the Portuguese presence in the Indian Ocean (2016-2018). He is presently distance-working on the African collection of the Museum of Anthropology at Vancouver, Canada. Since 2016 Pereira is Visiting Research Assistant at the University of Hong Kong (HKU). He describes himself as a historical geographer and his life interest in Zheng He has led to talks and lectures on the subject in China, Malaysia, Canada, the UK and on the cruise liner Silver Muse. He has numerous papers and chapters in publications around the world.