After traveling the world to exhibit at Beijing’s Palace Museum, Taiwan’s National Museum of History and Goldsmiths’ Hall in London, one of Hong Kong’s most prestigious antiquities collections will soon have a permanent home at Liang Yi Museum. The museum plans to open its doors in February 2014 on Hollywood Road, Hong Kong’s historic art and antiquing hub.
The non-profit institution is set to become the city’s first world-class private museum, with over 20,000 square feet of exhibition space, showcasing rare and precious antiques that reflect the East-meets-West culture of Hong Kong.
A 19th-century lounge chair with retractable footrest — Photo courtesy of Liang Yi Museum
The Liang Yi collection includes one of the world's largest and best curated selections of Chinese antique furniture, made of the treasured materials huanghuali and zitan from the Ming and Qing dynasties. Started in the 1980s, the collection has grown to over 300 pieces three decades later. At the Liang Yi Museum, this magnificent trove of Chinese antique furniture will be shown in rotating exhibitions, curated to highlight the many facets and delights of this all but forgotten furniture-making tradition.
For those curious about European history, the Liang Yi Museum also houses the world's premier collection of bejeweled clutches, compacts and powder boxes. Made in the finest design houses such as Cartier, Boucheron and Van Cleef & Arpels, these necessaries and minaudieres - glittering with precious stones and showing exquisitely detailed craftsmanship - were once a staple of every lady's evening wear.
With nearly 400 examples from the late 1880s through to the 1960s, including some that belonged to HRH Princess Margaret and local legend Anita Mui, this dazzling collection provides an elegant peek at a bygone era.
Since it was paved in 1844 as one of the first streets on Hong Kong Island, Hollywood Road has been a marketplace for cultural items flowing in and out of China. Situated by the coast at the time, the street was a trader’s heaven, with precious and rare goods found at every turn, brought in by foreign merchants and sailors.
In particular, the 1980s saw an influx of well-preserved antiques from the newly opened borders of the motherland. It was during these “golden years” that collector Peter Fung kindled his lifelong passion for antiques, steadily building relationships with local dealers who introduced him to the art and intricacies behind these Chinese hardwood antiquities.
As the defining character of Hollywood Road today faces looming displacement by hip F&B establishments and rising rents, Fung’s four-storied Liang Yi Museum will stand as one of the few remaining markers of Hollywood Road’s illustrious past. The museum is located in a refurbished 1960s building with a black and white tiled façade typical of the era.
“We would like to present the antiques in refreshing, interactive ways that will help maintain ongoing interest in the past and keep them relevant to today’s audiences," says Fung’s daughter Lynn, who operates the museum as managing director. "Precisely because the antiques are so rare and precious, we felt that they should be shared with the community and interested public, and there’s no better or more natural place to do this than on Hollywood Road.”