Hong Kong's art and heritage gem, Tai Kwun, celebrates 1st anniversary

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Since opening its doors to the public a year ago, the revitalised Central Police Station compound, operating as Tai Kwun, has come alive with heritage and art exhibitions, musical performances, film shows, docent tours and more. The compound, which was revitalised by The Hong Kong Jockey Club in partnership with the Government, has recorded some 3.4 million visits in its first year of operations, testifying that Tai Kwun today is not only an important heritage site, but also a much-loved destination in the arts and cultural life of Hong Kong.

At the first year anniversary celebrations on 25 May 2019, guests and visitors gathered in Tai Kwun for a joyous ceremony which included a spectacular performance by the Hong Kong Police Force and the launch of “Tai Kwun 101” heritage exhibition.  

Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR Carrie Lam, Chairman of The Hong Kong Jockey Club Dr Anthony W K Chow, and Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo Wai-chung officiated at the anniversary celebrations. More than 200 guests, including government officials, community leaders, heritage, arts and culture representatives, as well as programme partners attended the ceremony.

Dr Chow said, “Tai Kwun has more than lived up to its purpose as a vibrant and vital part of Hong Kong’s cultural and artistic life. Since its opening, Tai Kwun has mounted an active programme of exhibitions, events and performances. It has collaborated with major arts groups and festivals and given a platform to up-and-coming artists and performers. It has also reached out to the local community, recording and sharing the stories of Central district, and has welcomed citizens from all walks of life.”

As Tai Kwun continues into its second year of operations, a series of exhibitions and programmes featuring home grown and international artists and performing arts groups have been planned. Coinciding with the first anniversary celebrations is the opening of “Tai Kwun 101”, a thematic exhibition that showcases 101 objects related to the Central Police Station compound and chronicling a variety of stories about work and life in these historic buildings over time.

In addition, opening on 1 June is a contemporary art exhibition by world famous Japanese artist Takashi Murakami.

Tai Kwun is the largest art, culture and heritage charitable project of The Hong Kong Jockey Club and the largest and one of the most complex historical revitalisation projects Hong Kong has ever undertaken. The 13,600-square-metre Central Police Station compound covers three declared monuments, namely the former Central Police Station, Central Magistracy and Victoria Prison; a total of 16 heritage buildings. There are also two new buildings – an international-grade art gallery known as JC Contemporary and an auditorium known as JC Cube.

Dr Chow expressed special thanks to Chief Executive Carrie Lam who was a driving force behind the project from the very beginning. He also thanked the support from the government departments involved, the Antiquities Advisory Board, the Jockey Club Central Police Station Advisory Committee, the Heritage Working Group and the Art Working Group, as well as the Central and Western District Council and the neighbouring community for their support over the past year.

The success of this revitalisation project has earned accolades for Hong Kong and established a new benchmark for heritage conservation in the city. The project was recognised for its structural excellence with its project engineering consultant, Arup, presented the Structural Excellence Award 2019 by The Hong Kong Institution of Engineers. Tai Kwun also received the HKICON Conservation Award 2018 – Interpretation Category by The Hong Kong Institute of Architectural Conservationists. The revitalisation project was described by The Telegraph in the UK as “one of the largest and most intricate conservation projects in the city”.