Construction and operation of Hong Kong Palace Museum (2017/02/08) (Written)

Construction and operation of Hong Kong Palace Museum (2017/02/08) (Written)

Construction and operation of Hong Kong Palace Museum (2017/02/08) (Written)

Following is a question by the Hon Yiu Si-wing and a written reply by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Lau Kong-wah, in the Legislative Council today (February 8):


     The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) has decided to develop a Hong Kong Palace Museum (HKPM) in the West Kowloon Cultural District, with a view to showcasing collections loaned by the Palace Museum in Beijing on a long-term basis. The WKCDA has been offered a donation of $3.5 billion from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust to pay for the construction cost of the HKPM. It is anticipated that the construction works of the HKPM will commence at the end of 2017 and be completed by 2022. Some members of the public and members of the tourism industry have pointed out that upon its commissioning, the HKPM will not only help strengthen public understanding of Chinese culture and history, but also enhance the competitiveness of Hong Kong's tourism industry, and they therefore eagerly look forward to the expeditious commissioning of the HKPM. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether it knows if the WKCDA has conducted any study on the feasibility of accelerating the construction works of the HKPM; if the WKCDA has conducted such a study, of the details; if not, whether the WKCDA will consider expeditiously conducting such a study; 

(2) given that the Palace Museum will not be involved in the daily operation and management of the HKPM, and there are comments that the Palace Museum has a leading position in Asia with regard to heritage conservation, cultural publication, educational promotion, cultural and creative product design, etc., whether it knows if the WKCDA will establish regular communication channels with the Palace Museum as well as strengthen mutual cooperation and exchange of experience, to facilitate the operation and management of the HKPM; if the WKCDA will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and 

(3) whether it knows if the WKCDA will operate the HKPM on a self-financing basis; if the WKCDA will, of the criteria to be adopted by the WKCDA for determining the level of the HKPM's admission fees, as well as the income other than admission fees that will be generated from the HKPM as anticipated by the WKCDA; if the WKCDA will not, the reasons for that, and which party will bear the operating losses (if any) incurred by the HKPM?



     The West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) is an important cultural project of Hong Kong driven by the vision of developing the WKCD into a world-class integrated arts and cultural district comprising local, traditional as well as international elements with a view to providing quality programmes with a must-visit appeal and nurturing artistic talents. Developing the Hong Kong Palace Museum (HKPM) in WKCD can showcase the exquisite collections of the Palace Museum to the people of Hong Kong and visitors on a long-term basis and in a more comprehensive and in-depth manner, enhance the diversity of WKCD's facilities and promote the tourism industry, and thereby help realise the vision of WKCD.

     My reply to the three parts of the question is as follows:

(1) The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) and the Palace Museum on December 23, 2016 was the significant first step for taking forward the HKPM project. The WKCDA has been conducting a six-week public consultation exercise according to plan since January 11 so as to collect public views on the project including the design and operation of the HKPM as well as the main focuses and directions of its exhibitions and educational activities. The WKCDA will organise and consider comprehensively all the views collected and will report to the Board and inform the public. 

     According to the aforementioned MOU, the WKCDA and the Palace Museum should formulate and sign a Collaborative Agreement in replacement of the MOU within six months after the signing of the MOU. The Collaborative Agreement will set out the detailed clauses for the collaboration. As such, after taking into consideration the views collected in the public consultation exercise, the WKCDA has to discuss with the Palace Museum in formulating the content and clauses of the Collaborative Agreement and sign the Agreement in due course to implement the various details of the project. At the same time, the design consultant of the project should complete the detailed design to facilitate the tendering of construction works of the HKPM project by the WKCDA.

     As the HKPM will display invaluable relics of the Palace Museum which necessitate stringent requirements on such aspects as lighting, temperature and humidity control, security and fire safety, the construction works will be much more complex than the development of ordinary commercial buildings, and adequate time should be reserved for conducting tests, calibration and inspection so as to ensure all provisions fulfil the necessary requirements and standards for an international museum. We anticipate that if the construction works of the HKPM commence in late 2017 or early 2018, it should be ready for opening by 2022.

(2) The well-established collaborative relationship between the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Palace Museum in the past provides a solid basis for delivering the HKPM project in WKCD. In particular, the creative approach and international perspective adopted in the curatorial presentation and educational programmes by Hong Kong curatorial professionals are very much appreciated by the Palace Museum. Although the Palace Museum will not be involved in the daily operation and management of the HKPM, it will provide the HKPM with expert advice and assistance as necessary such as providing training for the curatorial and conservation team of the HKPM, supporting its educational activities and fostering exchange between the HKPM and relevant Mainland and overseas institutions. The WKCDA will also invite the Palace Museum to provide expert advice and suggestions on the design, collections, exhibitions, programming, and cultural product development of the HKPM. Besides, the HKPM will provide a platform for exchange between the Palace Museum and overseas cultural institutions fostering international collaboration in the fields of heritage conservation and professional training, etc.

(3) The HKPM will be an arts and cultural facility of WKCD and the WKCDA will cover the operating expenses of the HKPM. The major sources of income of the HKPM include exhibition ticket sales, other programming income, venue rentals, catering services and retail sales (including souvenir sales). As preparatory work for the HKPM has just started and the project is still in the public consultation and design stage, the WKCDA has yet to formulate the operational details of the HKPM. Taking into account the historical and artistic value of the collections of the Palace Museum and its successful experience in developing cultural and creative products, we anticipate that the HKPM will become a popular destination for visitors and the spending of visitors and souvenir sales will be higher than those of other local public museums, which may support the operating expenses of the museum to a certain extent. The WKCDA will incorporate the estimated operating income and expenditure of HKPM into its overall budget later on. If the enhanced financial arrangement proposed in the 2017 Policy Address of the Chief Executive is implemented, the WKCDA will have the financial capability to operate sustainably the various facilities in WKCD, including the HKPM.