Hong Kong’s Palace Museum gives visitors a look at the lives of emperors in the Forbidden City

Gabriella Yeung
  • Located in West Kowloon Cultural District, the museum’s nine galleries display paintings and precious artefacts from ancient China
  • View sculptures from the Song dynasty, beautiful landscapes and scenes from Lunar New Year
Gabriella Yeung |

Latest Articles

OpenAI’s ChatGPT will ‘see, hear and speak’ in major update

Make these Japanese chicken meatball skewers at your next family dinner

Why farmers in Japan are returning to ‘fertiliser from a person’s bottom’

Hong Kong’s teacher shortage is forcing primary schools to hire untrained candidates

The Lens: Japan’s Johnny Kitagawa sexual assault scandal was hidden in plain sight

“Headrest in the shape of a reclining boy” created in the famous Ding Kilns. Photo: The Palace Museum

After many years of preparation, Hong Kong’s Palace Museum has finally opened to the public. Located in West Kowloon Cultural District, the architecture of the museum is one of a kind, following a concept known as the “central axis”, and the main entrance doors are shaped to replicate ancient Chinese temple entrance doors. The building also has floor to ceiling windows, a beige exterior, and multiple balconies along the exterior.

The museum’s nine galleries display the many precious artefacts of the Palace Museum collection, which not only illustrate the imperial family’s way of life, but also show how writing, painting and other arts have evolved over time.

Here are five of our favourite pieces:

Artist Pipilotti Rist presents magical wonderland in Behind Your Eyelid exhibition

1. “Ten Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains,” Zhao Fu

This painting is very special because the artist used a special technique to depict the crashing waves of the river. By using layers of subtle wet washes, he makes the picture come to life, allowing you to truly see the ever changing scenery of the river. He also uses strong, precise brush strokes to depict the staggering mountains and turbulent waters of the landscape, which help bring the painting together. This painting is significant because Zhao Fu was one of the few artists of his time that focused primarily on water in his landscape painting.

“Ten Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains” by Zhao Fu. The handscroll – the longest work in the museum – is a “grade 1” national treasure that will only be on view for one month. The painting was owned by numerous imperial officials from the Ming dynasty onwards until it made its way to the Palace Museum in the late 20th century. Photo: Sam Tsang

2. “Basket of Flowers,” Li Song

Created during the Southern Song dynasty, this was painted using ink and colour on silk. The white flowers represent the elegance in simple things, and the dull background further accentuates the different colours. The composition and diversity of the flowers represent the beauty in diversity. The thin brush strokes and fine details will leave the viewer in awe.

Li Song’s “Basket of Flowers”. Photo: The Palace Museum

3. “The Qianlong Emperor Enjoying the Lunar New Year”

This painting depicts the Emperor enjoying the festivities of Lunar New Year with his children. The artist used dull colours in the background, but vivid colours to emphasise people’s clothes. The happy expressions on the children and Emperor suggest they are having a good time. This beautiful painting shows that the busy Emperor values his family above all – a prominent concept in Chinese culture.

Explore the universe of NFTs at new Orbstellar Metaspace exhibit

4. “Portrait of the Xiaozhuang Wen Empress dressed in court attire”

This piece depicts an elderly Empress dressed in all blue, wearing a red crown decorated with golden trinkets, perched elegantly on a gold throne. The detail of the painting is unmatched, from the dragons on her robes to the patterns of the carpet. All are painted with a variety of colours and designs to make them look realistic and elegant. The painting is not only beautiful, but impressive in size. It will make viewers wonder, how did the artist paint it without the help of modern technology?

Teen wins award in Justice Centre Hong Kong’s Arts Prize for portrait of Contrinx, a domestic worker and YouTuber

5. “Headrest in the shape of a reclining boy”

This artefact was produced by the Ding Kilns, one of the “Five Famous Kilns” of the Song dynasty, and is one of a kind. It is made of stoneware and has an iron glaze, and is in the shape of a boy laying flat on his stomach on top of a platform while looking upright. This is a strange piece which highlights the Ding Kiln’s creativity.

Overall, the Palace Museum is one of the most unique educational experiences in Hong Kong, and helps people learn more about Chinese culture and history. Since most of the items in the galleries can be viewed for a limited time only, make sure to visit soon!

Sign up for the YP Teachers Newsletter
Get updates for teachers sent directly to your inbox
By registering, you agree to our T&C and Privacy Policy