Thousands of visitors flock to historic Hong Kong police station site for opening of Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts

Opening exhibit at newly restored Central Police Station complex introduces people to site’s past with interactive displays

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 May, 2018, 9:30am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 May, 2018, 4:29pm

Thousands of visitors turned up to the restored Central Police Station and Victoria Prison compound on Tuesday, the art centre’s first day open to the public.

More than 3,500 of the 6,000 visitors the centre was expecting had entered the historical site by 3pm, said Timothy Calnin, director of Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts.

One of the centre’s opening exhibitions, 100 Faces of Tai Kwun, introduces visitors to the site’s neighbourhood with videos, photos and radio drama.

The exhibition is located in a block which used to be the former law enforcement complex’s headquarters along Hollywood Road.

Historical objects, such as the deportation warrant issued by Central Police Station, and the first case heard at Central Magistracy, are on display.

The interactive heritage storytelling was welcomed by visitors.

“We came here after school and found so much fun here,” said Ana Hamer, a 12-year-old who lives in Sai Kung, and was visiting with her mother, Pirko, and nine-year-old brother Nico.

“I have already recommended the place to my friends,” she said, after finishing reading about Vietnamese independence leader Ho Chi Minh, who was held in the complex’s Victoria Prison in the 1930s.

Old photographs capture past as historic Hong Kong site prepares to reopen for an exciting future

Besides exhibitions covering the heritage and history of Hong Kong, the art centre will also play host to a series of performances, including shows by French street theatre company Compagnie des Quidams, and a cappella group Yat Po Singers.

“We also have education programmes as the school year ends and summer break begins,” Calnin said.

From Friday, June 15, Tai Kwun will start offering a weekly programme called Art After Hours, aiming to help adults experience contemporary art “in a completely relaxed way”.

Chui Lok-on, a 20-year-old student at the Baptist University, said: “I didn’t know much about the site but learned a lot about the architecture and history of the place today.”

He came to visit the site with his mother, who booked the tour.

More buildings and programmes will open to the public in the following phases of the heritage project, with the renovation of the Central Magistracy expected to be finished in October.

More restaurants and shops are also expected to open in the following weeks.

City residents and tourists can apply for a free pass on the art centre’s website or app. Passes need to be booked at least one day in advance.

Passes to Tai Kwun can be booked via its website or mobile app, starting from Friday, and visitors should book at least one day in advance.