Hong Kong Island
AROUND HONG KONG ISLAND
Although most art spaces and galleries are centralised around the main hub of Central and Hollywood Road, there are still many to be found in other parts of Hong Kong island. Here’s a selection of our picks for you, which in our opinion showcases the best and most diverse offerings that are worth seeing. Many have the added bonus of being housed in buildings of both historical and cultural significance! As most of these are not within walking distance of each other, plan your itinerary ahead of time.
University Museum and Art Gallery (UMAG)
TheUniversity Museum and Art Gallery (UMAG) of the University of Hong Kong is best found via its Bonham Road entrance, and has become more accessible now with the new HKU MTR station. The primarily Neo-Georgian-style building is easily distinguishable; in 2018 its exterior was designated a Declared Monument. Founded in 1953, it is the oldest continuously-operated museum in Hong Kong, with a rich and diverse collection of ceramics and bronzes as well as traditional and modern paintings. These are exhibited as part of their permanent collection, in addition to regular exhibitions of contemporary Chinese and Western art.
Asia Society Hong Kong Center
A visit to the Asia Society Hong Kong Center*is a must. Its home is at the former Explosives Magazine of the old Victoria Barracks in Admiralty, which is steeped in Hong Kong’s history, housing four former British military buildings. The Center offers a broad variety of art programmes in the form of lectures, performances, film screenings, and exhibitions. Throughout the centre and in its outdoor spaces, a diverse collection of art can also be found in the form of sculptures, paintings, and multi-media works.
The Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery is located on the 5th floor of One Pacific Place, hosting selling exhibitions, mid-season auctions, international lectures and cultural events throughout the year. It provides an alternative art-exhibiting venue in addition to the the traditional gallery space, and makes viewing of their auction items much more accessible to the general audience. Twice a year, Sotheby’s holds its impressive large-scale pre-auction exhibitions at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Another established English auction house, Bonham’s also has an office and gallery at Pacific Place in Hong Kong, where auction items can be viewed throughout the exhibition period. Although one of the world’s oldest auctioneers, it boasts smaller sales in Hong Kong due to its more relatively recent presence, though a recently-launched gallery programme featuring local artists has recently upped its visibility.
WAN CHAI & CAUSEWAY BAY
3 minutes away, visit Kiang Malingue* in its new headquarter building on Sik On Street. Founded in 2010 and recently renamed to reflect the directorship of both Lorraine and Edouard, the gallery seeks to bring attention to Asian and other contemporary artists who combine aesthetic concern with conceptual enquiry. Exhibitions in various disciplines are presented, from video and installation to painting and sound. Visits are by appointment only.
Hong Kong Arts Centre
In Wanchai north, a 15-minute walk from the MTR, the Hong Kong Arts Centre is Hong Kong’s only independent non-profit multi-arts institution. It aims to foster artistic exchanges locally and internationally, bringing the most forward creations to Hong Kong and showcasing homegrown talents abroad. Through its rich programmes and collaborations, the centre offers screenings, performances, and retrospective exhibitions through its multi-level space at the Pao Galleries*. Call ahead to find out what exhibitions are being presented before your visit.
The Hong Kong Art Centre’s education arm, the Hong Kong Art School, was born in 2000 as an accredited institute staffed by a group of dedicated artists for the fostering of new talents in four core academic areas: Fine Art, Applied Art, Media Art, and Applied Theatre and Drama Education. Regular exhibitions are held at its School Gallery on the 10th floor of the Hong Kong Arts Centre.
Further up on the 14th floor, visit the Goethe-Institut if there are pop-up exhibitions showing. An important goal of the Goethe-Institut is to promote international cultural cooperation by organising a broad variety of events to present German culture abroad. Their exhibition space showcases a diverse selection of art.
If you’re around Goose Neck Bridge near Times Square, don’t forget to pay a visit to PHD Group, a contemporary art gallery situated in a 1970s rooftop clubhouse. PHD Group, whose full name is Property Holdings Development Group, is a critical reflection of the current art industry through the platform of a commercial gallery. Founded in 2021 by Ysabelle Cheung and Willem Molesworth, the gallery focuses on showcasing emerging and mid-career artists from the region. Visits are by appointment only (the exact address disclosed upon confirmation of appointment).
Housed in a 1930s Grade III heritage building known as “tong lau”, THE SHOPHOUSE explores boundaries between art, design, and everyday living. The five-story building is a 4,000-square-foot gallery space with each floor dedicated to the works of different unconventional local and overseas artists whose stimulating programmes weave different forms of artistic expressions into everyday life.
F11 Foto Museum
F11 Foto Museum occupies a fully restored three-storey building from the 1930s, listed a Grade III historical building. Built in the Art Deco architectural style, the building’s restoration has aptly blended in many elements of photography. Founded by photography aficionado Douglas So in 2015, the museum promotes photography through well-curated exhibitions of rare cameras and photos, and nearly 1,500 photo books, including many rare signed editions and maquettes. The museum keeps short visiting hours from Tuesdays to Saturdays between 2pm-7pm, or by appointment. Please note that the MTR does not come to Happy Valley.
NORTH POINT & QUARRY BAY
As you come to North Point, continue walking in the direction of Tin Hau until you arrive at Sea View Estate, home of Leo Gallery. Founded in 2008 in Shanghai, the gallery branched out to Hong Kong in 2014, and has been instrumental in bridging East and West. It is also known for promoting emerging and established artists from the Mainland China region. Memorable exhibitions in the past include presentations by Cai Zhisong, Cang Xin, Martin Wehmer, and Patricia Waller.
Oi! is housed in a Grade II historic Arts and Crafts-style building on Oil Street, built in 1908 as a clubhouse of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. Its name is a call for people’s attention, directing it to a platform here where visions of art can be materialised. It works closely with the Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre, its sister organisation under the Art Promotion office, to nurture young artists, promote community art and stage exciting new exhibitions. The site is not only charming but steeped in history. Please call ahead for opening hours, and to make sure there are ongoing exhibitions before your visit.
Next, head to Quarry Bay to visit Para Site*, one of the oldest and most active independent art institutions in Asia. Founded in 1996 as an artist-run space, it was Hong Kong’s first exhibition-making institution of contemporary art, producing shows, publications, and projects aimed at forging a critical understanding of art. Its boundary-breaking programmes and collaborative exhibitions are noteworthy. Take note of its opening hours of Wednesdays to Sundays only between 12pm-7pm.
Additional information & Disclaimer
Admission to galleries is free, and they are normally open Tuesday-Saturday. However, there are exceptions; please always check their website or call ahead for exact opening days and hours before your visit.