Royal spark for culture hub wish

Hong Kong will become a cultural and creative hub in Asia, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said at the opening of a special exhibition of a royal family's collection in Hong Kong Palace Museum last week.

In a Facebook post yesterday, he shared a 50-second video of his visit to Odysseys of Art: Masterpieces Collected by the Princes of Liechtenstein - which opened on Wednesday and ends on February 20.

It is the first display of Western artifacts since the museum opened on July 3 and the first time over 120 treasures owned by the royal family of the wealthy European microstate are exhibited in Hong Kong.

In his post, Lee said: "The museum vows to work with international cultural and arts institutions to solidify Hong Kong's status as a center for Chinese and Western exchanges."

He said the national 14th five-year plan has outlined Beijing's support for the SAR to become an intersection for Chinese and Western culture, which he described as a shot in the arm for the SAR's cultural sector.

"The administration will utilize Hong Kong's unique creative atmosphere with a blend of Chinese and Western cultures, and brand Hong Kong as an Asian cultural and creative hub," he said.

He reiterated an objective in his policy address, delivered last month, of mapping out a 10-year development blueprint for more arts and cultural facilities and establishing a fund to support the hosting of mega events.

In his speech at the exhibition's opening ceremony on Tuesday, Lee said: "No doubt, we will also continue to seize upon the unique strengths of the West Kowloon Cultural District in showcasing Hong Kong's thriving ecosystem in the creative sector."

"We endeavor to foster the exchange across civilizations, and tell the captivating stories of Hong Kong and our motherland in the global arena."

The House of Liechtenstein is one of the oldest lineages in Europe, and its princes have amassed art for more than 400 years, establishing one of the largest and most important collections of paintings, sculptures and carpets in the world today. Curating teams handpicked some 124 pieces from over 30,000 items, with Baroque paintings particular standouts.

Almost 40 masterpieces featured come from two of the most gifted Baroque painters: Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck.

Divided into eight thematic sections, the exhibition in the museum's Gallery 8 reveals much about Liechtenstein's history of art collecting. Central to the story are five princes whose passion for art shaped what are known today as the Princely Collections.

Admission is HK$120 for adults, with a concessionary ticket costing HK$60.