It's a wonderful experience. I'm very hopeful for the Museum and its futureand for Hong Kong.
Nancy Lee, 60 years is more than half a century. Yet, if you think about it, it's just a blip in human history, as the Hong Kong Museum of Art celebrates its special 60th anniversary this year. What are some of the milestone moments that speak to the legacy of its lifetime?
I arrived in Hong Kong in the late 1980s and I recall everyone saying this is a cultural desert. I didn't find it quite like that because Hong Kong was very lively with folk traditions but it didn't have various established cultural institutions. So, when the Museum was built here on Tsim Sha Tsui in 1991, I thought this was the moment that the Hong Kong Museum of Art could become has the potential to become a very important cultural institution for Hong Kong and for Asia.
How close are we to that ambition, though of being a truly world class cultural center?
Hong Kong has really changed in the past 20 years. Now, we have an entire ecosystem of fine art fairs of art auction houses, art galleries and many buyers/collectors based here and some fabulous new museums both here in Tsim Sha Tsui, as well as West Kowloon. I think Hong Kong can totally make its mark in arts and culture.
And how do you think that we can better share that culture not only with the people here in Hong Kong and across China but more widely, too?
Indeed, I think Wu Guanzhong saw very early on the potential of Hong Kong and what it embodied, and it encapsulated both the best of the East and the West. So, he loved Hong Kong. But most importantly, he felt that Hong Kong told its story in a way that was very sensitive and understood its depth, and what it meant to bring traces of the West into his art and modernize Chinese art.
Our Museum underwent a major renovation and reopened during 2019 in the midst of the social unrest. We all had a bit of fear what might happen to the Museum as so many places in Hong Kong were not safe. But actually, the opposite happened we could see that people were coming here and drawing in inspiration and peace and quiet. Really, it was a moment of such joyful peace in the Museum for them and I think people enjoyed that very much.
The harbor offers us, and windows like these a look on to the world as it happens and the Museum has been a gathering point of that as it unfolds. How will you use the Museum to further impact the future that you anticipate is coming up ahead?
Well, that's a big question. What we have been doing very quietly for many years is to bring young people into the museum, through the schools by a free bus system. We have been drawing the wider public into the Museum through Sunday concerts and in the summertime, we have a program for underprivileged children from many different backgrounds to come and enjoy the art. I think this is the way that we have reached out to the widest community possible in Hong Kong. And this is a role that the Museum will continue to play, to nurture the young and to expose them to new ideas and great art.