Art And the City: Bringing The Museum To The People

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Art And the City: Bringing The Museum To The People

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From Chinese calligraphy to modern art in Hong Kong, alfresco art is hitting the streets and buildings in the city in a big way this month.

In our pandemic-stricken year part 2, most of us still haven’t been able to get to the theatre, visit museums, make cinema dates and get to every vernissage in the calendar for over a year now. While things are slowly opening up in Hong Kong, most galleries and museums have remained closed even though institutions around the world have done whatever they can to become Covid-secure; many have stayed shut for several months and others haven’t reopened at all.

While the Hong Kong Museum of Art (HKMoA) reopened its doors after renovations at the end of 2019 with a new look and big aspirations, it also took a hit with restrictions. As a result, it launched a digital platform, virtually@HKMoA  in April last year where one can access exhibitions, audio guides, documentaries and animations with a click. This has been especially pertinent with social distancing measures and restrictions in mobility.

But this was just the harbinger of bringing art closer to the people.

This year Art for Everyone@HKMoA will showcase artwork across Hong Kong’s 18 districts between 23 March and 23 May 2021. One hundred images of artwork have been selected from HKMoA’s four core collections: Chinese Antiquities, Chinese Painting and Calligraphy, China Trade Art, and Modern and Hong Kong Art.

In order to reach as large and diverse an audience as possible, these images will be displayed on 370 billboards, digital displays and transport hubs, in public outdoor and indoor spaces.

Flask Painted in Underglaze Blue with Dragons. Ming Yongle (1403-1424)

Dr. Maria Mok, Museum Director, Hong Kong Museum of Art said: “The Hong Kong Museum of Art is the custodian of the city’s cultural treasures and we are delighted to be featured in this campaign with 100 images of works from our collection. Art For Everyone @HKMoA is sure to spark curiosity and positivity when people encounter art in unexpected places. We hope to inspire the public during their daily routine and invite them to come to the Museum to see the art in person.”

Why Should Art be Accessible to All?

Access to art has been heavily influenced by socio-economic background and by where people live. Often, people living further from the city have less opportunity to participate in art and cultural events. It was not always the case.

The oldest purpose of art served religious or ritualistic purposes. It had a physical function in the way tools, weapons and crockery was designed or decorated. Painting and sculpture were also used to record and commemorate important events or people as a reminder for posterity. Many works of art are a reflection of nature or a celebration of beauty. Artwork of significance was often strategically displaced in churches, temples or other public places.

Art is a powerful means of storytelling as images have the ability to evoke strong emotions. Although it has been used as an effective tool for propaganda, many have used it to expose social conditions. Think of paintings in the Realism period in the late 18th century. Or more recently, the photographs of workers by Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado.

For art to be of value to the community, it should be representative of its society. Art creates symbols that people identify with. It serves to challenge our prejudices or perceptions. It inspires us to imagine and evolve. Expressing our emotions by making art is a healthy outlet that can improve our mental well-being. Fueling our creativity and broadening our horizons connects us to others, or to a world larger than ourselves.

“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.” Friedrich Nietzsche

The bilingual AR App “ArtForEveryone.hk” allows users to see the list of artwork and their locations

The Art of Sharing

Choosing to place these curated images in plain view where people congregate removes some of the barriers for people to participate in the arts. HKMoA further encourages this with a bilingual mobile application specially designed for the campaign. The App can be downloaded for free to see the list of artwork and their locations. It also allows users to search for artwork using a map view.

To use digital technologies to engage and reach new audiences, HKMoA has designed an augmented reality (AR) feature, especially for this campaign. The user can interact with ten selected pieces. The interaction makes the artwork come alive.

Victoria Peak by Huang Bore from HKMoA’s Chinese Painting and Calligraphy collection: AR sees the hikers engaging in outdoor activities like parachuting around Victoria Peak.
Moving? Staying? by Liu Guosong from HKMoA’s Modern and Hong Kong Art collection: AR enables the user to select a different colour for the setting suns and watch the colour flow across them

If Art for Everyone@HKMoA succeeds in igniting people’s interest and curiosity, it can prove uplifting and make art and culture more relevant to the community. Sharing a common experience or visual language strengthens the bonds of communities.

It says “you are not alone”. 

Engage with the campaign via https://www.artforeveryone.hk/or follow @FRIENDSHKMOA on social media platforms.

Website: hk.art.museum

Facebook: www.facebook.com/hkmoa

Instagram: www.instagram.com/hkmoa

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