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If there’s one thing about Hong Kong that’s more iconic than anything else, it would be our harbour. As tightly squeezed as it may be, our glistening waterfront consists of more than just office towers and shopping centres. It also plays host to innovative art institutions, architectural gems, and international art events. Not sure where to look? Follow this route to some of the most interesting art and cultural hubs along the harbour and kick-off your journey as a bona fide culture vulture.
From the one-of-a-kind architecture of Hong Kong Cultural Centre and Xiqu Centre to beloved tourist attractions such as the Avenue of Stars, the art hubs that line both sides of Victoria Harbour are a captivating sight to behold and beloved by overseas visitors. Add to that the glamorous international annual events, such as Art Central and Art Basel, that bring world-class artworks to our shores, it’s easy to see why Hong Kong’s status as Asia’s leading art hub is firmly cemented.
Born in Basel, Switzerland in the 1970s, Art Basel is one of Hong Kong’s most highly regarded art events. The large-scale art fair is held every year in its hometown and in Miami Beach, arriving in Hong Kong in 2013 for its debut in Asia. "For most of us in Asia, everybody looks to Hong Kong as a great city that we all want to be in," says Adeline Ooi, Director Asia of Art Basel. According to Ooi, Hong Kong’s inherent attributes and East-meets-West culture make the city an ideal location.
Born in Malaysia, Ooi started out as Art Basel's VIP relations manager for Southeast Asia before she was appointed to her current role in 2014. Having lived in Hong Kong for many years, Ooi sees past the city’s ‘concrete jungle’ perception. Whether it’s the bustling sounds and textures of the city, or the sweeping views of Victoria Harbour from Lugard Road on Victoria Peak, there is so much to love about Hong Kong. “The possibilities are endless here,” she enthuses. Ooi recommends looking beyond international fairs to discover creative spaces such as the Hong Kong Museum of Art (HKMoA), where art lovers can get to know the stories of Hong Kong through a diverse array of artworks, while soaking in the splendid views of the harbour.
In this rapidly-changing world that we live in, Ooi has observed the art community quickly adapting to the many challenges and difficulties it faces. The power of art often inspires and brings positive energy, so take a stroll along both sides of our beautiful Victoria Harbour and make time for a touch of artistic healing.
Established in 1977, the Hong Kong Arts Centre plays host to a variety of artistic events including live performances, movie screenings, and art exhibitions by local and international artists. Don’t forget to check out the art shop at HKAC, which offers beautiful art pieces by local artists ranging from handcrafted ceramics and accessories to books, paintings, and much more.
Wan Chai Waterfront Promenade has become one of the city’s newest Insta-worthy hotspots thanks to home-grown artist Prudence Mak. The newly refurbished promenade features a series of fun paintings, floor murals, and a large-scale inflatable installation under the theme of ‘Chocolate Rain’, a cartoon design inspired by childhood dreams and adventures. The artworks also double up as different childhood games like hopscotch and mazes, encouraging the public to not only view the art but also play, interact, and create special memories from it. In addition to artworks by Mak, selected works from the Harbourfront Public Furniture Competition can also be found at the Pierside Precinct near Wan Chai Ferry Pier.
The Hong Kong Cultural Centre and adjacent historic clock tower are tourist favourites for capturing photos of the harbour. Built in 1989, the curved and concave shaped building is the go-to venue for international touring theatre shows, world-class concerts, operas, and live performances.
After renovation, the Hong Kong Museum of Art reopened its doors to the public with a sleek new look and upgraded facilities. Admire the museum from the outside where the ripple effect of the building facade echoes the waves of Victoria Harbour.
Hong Kong’s answer to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Avenue of Stars pays tribute to some of the city’s most illustrious names in the film industry. Grab a selfie with sculptures of cinematic icons by the waterfront — even the beloved local cartoon character McDull has a prime spot in front of the harbour’s skyline — and discover over 100 celebrity handprints on the boardwalk’s wooden railings. While you’re there, learn more about each film icon by scanning the QR codes from each set of prints to read the artists’ bios or watch selected clips from their films.
A premier performing arts venue dedicated to promoting and celebrating the art form and rich heritage of xiqu, or Chinese opera, Xiqu Centre houses two theatres, four professional studios, a seminar hall and a souvenir shop, as well as restaurants and cafes. Head to the Tea House Theatre for an experience with short excerpts of Chinese classical music, or relax in the atrium where regular events such as exhibitions, music performances, and xiqu demonstrations are held. Even the building itself is a marvel on its own. The striking architecture, designed by Revery Architecture and Ronald Lu & Partners, was inspired by traditional Chinese lanterns, while the main entrance is shaped to resemble parted stage curtains.
M+ is one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary visual culture in the world, located in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District. Officially open to the public at the end of 2021, the museum boasts 65,000 square metres dedicated to collecting, exhibiting, and interpreting visual art, design and architecture, moving image, and Hong Kong visual culture of the 20th and 21st centuries. There are 33 galleries as well as a number of public display spaces, retail stores, F&B outlets, and vantage points to admire vistas of the waterfront.
Sitting prominently along the waterfront, the West Kowloon Art Park offers vast green spaces and ample venues for art and cultural events. Of course, there are plenty of Instagrammable spots too. Take a photo of the beautiful sunset by the waterfront with an unobstructed view of the skyline, or check out the 35-metre-long mural by local artist Calvin Ho (@AtomicAttack) which consists of over 25 quirky characters, ranging from aquatic centaurs to mushroom people to extra-terrestrial beings.
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