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The Metropolis Museum, which opens next week in Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong will focus on replicas of European masterpieces. Photo: Christina Ko

New Hong Kong art museum debuts, welcoming small groups with 30 high-quality Monet reproductions

  • Amid closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Metropolis museum is opening its doors in Hong Kong
  • The new museum will focus on high-quality reproductions of European masterpieces

As the rest of the world engages in ever more drastic measures to curb the spread of coronavirus, life in Hong Kong appears to be returning to semi-normality. With worries centred around overseas returnees, fears of local transmission have lessened, allowing institutions such as libraries and museums to resume operations, albeit with health-related measures in place.

A new museum in Wong Chuk Hang has decided to open its doors to the public after initially delaying its debut. Metropolis Museum will premiere its first show on Monday, welcoming visitors to its substantial space in groups of no more than 10 to 15 people.

The focus of the museum is on high-quality replicas of European masterpieces, with the aim being to give greater access to paintings rarely seen in East Asia. The first exhibition centres on the perennially popular Claude Monet.

A 2016 exhibition at the Heritage Museum, the artist’s first solo showing in Hong Kong, drew large crowds despite being located off the beaten track in Sha Tin, and founder Vanessa Robine hopes her museum can replicate this success.
A 3D replica of Monet’s A Stormy Sea (1864) at the Metropolis Museum in Wong Chuk Hang. Photo: Christina Ko

With current restrictions on travel, and the Art Basel art fair relegated to online showings, this could be the best way for Hongkongers to get up close and personal with famous works.

Some 30 pieces are being displayed, almost double the 17 pieces brought in 2016, a mixture of museum prints, hand-painted reproductions and 3D printed replicas, the last of which is a technology employed by major institutions to permanently digitally archive important works in case of future damage or theft.

Metropolis founder Vanessa Robine. Photo: Metropolis Museum

Other offerings include an immersive 3D exhibition walk through, art and new media workshops for children and adults, a series of works commissioned from an emerging artist in response to the show, and a gift shop.

Hong Kong’s late rise as a global art market has meant its focus is often on contemporary artists; even modern art shows are rare. With most local major institutions focusing on Asian art, Robine saw a gap in the market for the type of art she loved seeing on trips to Europe or America.

She felt frustration at not being ale to see the art she’d viewed in the Louvre or the Met. “We go to art galleries in Hong Kong and see contemporary work, but when you see a beautiful painting on a wall in a frame, it gives a different perception. I will stand in front of a painting for minutes, but I won’t stay on a page of a book with a reference photo,” she says.

“Hong Kong is quite a big city and it should be like any other capital, but you just don’t have this here.”

The interior of the Metropolis Museum. Photo: Christina Ko

Does it matter that it’s a copy, however high quality? “I’ve seen a lot with the democratisation of art. And I know that if a family comes here, they will bring back something, they will learn something, and they will remember it.”

Even when tourism recovers, Robine thinks the venue is best suited for those who call Asia home.

“I’m not sure a person who has the original in their museum back home would want to come and visit. [But] maybe [those from around] Asia? Hong Kong is not the only city that lacks modern and classical art museums,” she says.

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This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Reproductions just like the real thing