AS part of its touring programme, the Victoria and Albert Museum has sent its Arts of the Indian Courts exhibition to Hong Kong at the invitation of the Museum of Art. The Victoria and Albert's director Elizabeth Esteve-Coll was in Hong Kong for yesterday's opening and the reception at Government House, hosted by the Governor, on Thursday evening.. Two names high on the Hong Kong guest list were Gerald Godfrey and Tsui Tsin-tong, who have both given considerable sums of money to the Victoria and Albert Museum. ''We have much to thank Hong Kong people for,'' Ms Esteve-Coll said. ''There are a number who have either given pieces to us, or loaned items from their own collections.'' With both businessman Gerald Godfrey, a Hong Kong resident for nearly 40 years, and Mr Tsui their relationship with the museum has grown out of their passion for beautiful pieces. ''This relationship has been mutually beneficial. They both wander in here incognito whenever they are in London, just to see what items have been added.'' The Victoria and Albert's T. T. Tsui Gallery - which was founded in 1991 with a $14.6 million grant from the tycoon - covers the history of Chinese art and design from 6000BC to the present day. Ms Esteve-Coll, who will be in Hong Kong until Tuesday, is pleased with the success of the gallery: ''Because the Tsui Gallery is themed, this helps for performances and storytelling. ''Also, the exhibit labels are in Chinese, and the blind and partially sighted can actually handle a precious Ming vase. We encourage the public to touch certain objects, so they can be more aware of form and texture.'' Talks have been going on between the museum and Dr Yip Shing-yiu, president of the Oriental Ceramics Society of Hong Kong, who is also a keen collector of Chinese furniture, about a possible exhibition of furniture at the Hong Kong Museum of Art. This would include pieces from the red lacquer furniture collection at the Victoria and Albert, which was acquired in the 19th century. Asked if she would be shopping for more bequests in Hong Kong, Ms Esteve-Coll said: ''Specialist curators always develop close relationships with people or families who may no longer have room in their house for their treasures and will pass on pieces to us.'' The touring collection at the Museum of Art includes items from the Victoria and Albert's Indian and Southeast Asian collection. Some date from about 2000BC. The collection was put together by the East India Museum, which folded with the East India Company in 1858. The pieces moved to the Indian Office and in 1879 most of them were transferred to the South Kensington Museum, which was renamed the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1899. The Nehru Gallery of Indian Art covers the period 1550 to 1900. About 500 objects are from the arts of Mughal India, showing the pieces of the British period and the regional courts. The Emperor Shah Jahan's white jade wine cup (1657) is one of the most prized pieces. The exhibition has been touring Japan since last October. The 150 exhibits have been chosen from the 35,000 in the Indian and Southeast Asian collection, covering the 15th to 19th centuries. The Japanese showing ended in the Cultural Museum in Kyoto on April 3. The exhibition stays at the Hong Kong Museum of Art until late June. A room in London devoted to Himalayan and Southeast Asian Art houses about 150 pieces of decorative art and sculpture from Burma, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka Thailand, Tibet and Vietnam, with pieces from Pakistan and bronzes from India. One of the most valuable pieces in the gallery is an ivory and gold casket studded with sapphires (1540 to 1558) from Sri Lanka. Indian sculpture covers the period 200BC to 1500AD with bronze and stone sculptures from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Recent acquisitions include a bequest of objects form Thailand, a gift of Indian metalwork, paintings and textiles, gift of Khmer sculpture and the buying of a sculpture of a stone ship.