The largest Bruce Lee exhibition yet staged in Hong Kong could become permanent if fans or acquaintances of the late kung fu star come forward and donate enough mementoes.
Introducing "Bruce Lee: Kung Fu * Art * Life" at the Heritage Museum yesterday, director of Leisure and Cultural Services Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee said it was "not impossible" for the government to set up a permanent show. But the collection needed more than its current 600 pieces, Fung said.
"What we have is not enough," she said. "Thus we hope that this exhibition can become a platform that arouses people's interest to make donations."
The five-year exhibition opens on July 20, the 40th anniversary of Lee's death.
Its items include notes showing Lee's handwriting and drawings, a replica of his application form for an American citizen's return certificate from when he was a baby, costumes and nunchaku he used.
More than 400 pieces are on loan from the exhibition's co-organiser, the Bruce Lee Foundation, a public benefit corporation run by Lee's widow Linda Lee Cadwell and daughter Shannon Lee.
The exhibition was organised after plans fell apart to convert Lee's former home, a two-storey house at 41 Cumberland Road, Kowloon Tong, into a museum.
The plan emerged in 2008 when landlord Yu Panglin offered to donate the house but only on condition that it could be expanded into a full-fledged museum. The idea was scrapped in 2011 after Yu and the government could not agree on the conditions.
But the exhibition had already started to take shape and it eventually grew into its current form. The museum expects to receive 2.5 million visitors during the five-year run of the show, which received HK$24.8 million in funding from the Legislative Council.
The Sha Tin museum's approach to the show was different from what it had used previously and proved challenging, said the museum's curator for history, Jeremy Hui.
"For past exhibitions, we told stories through a timeline and a narration through [the subject's] life events, such as the Roman Tam exhibition. But Lee had such a rich life, albeit a short one. He played different roles, from being a superstar to a martial artist and even a philosopher," Hui said.
"We wanted to tell a story about his life journey from different perspectives by putting it into Hong Kong's cultural context."
A series of talks will be held to coincide with the exhibition, and the Tourism Commission will promote it overseas. Online bookings begin on July 4.