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Event Detail


Hong Kong’s Heritage: Help or Hindrance?

Prof Simon Thurley, CBE, Former Director of the Museum of London & Former Chief Executive of English Heritage
Wednesday, 4 Jul 2018
6.30pm to 8.30pm
Bonhams, Suite 2001, One Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty
Pre-payment. Please scroll down.
What is heritage? What is the ideal balance between preserving history and encouraging development? This talk answers these questions in the light of the recent revival of the Tai Kwun complex in Central and discusses the crucial role privately owned heritage plays in shaping Hong Kong’s future.

An inaugural ceremony on 29 May marked the reopening of the Central Police Station as the Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts. The centre is finally accessible to the public following the completion of an eight-year, HK$3.8 billion revitalisation project by the Hong Kong Jockey Club. With over 10,000 individuals visiting the Tai Kwun Centre over its inaugural weekend, it’s clear that the long-awaited reintroduction of the 154-year-old complex is emblematic of a Hong Kong-wide desire to gain a better understanding of the city’s rich history. 

Though the centre is generally seen as a positive addition to the city, the motivation behind the decision to renovate and how to renovate the Central Police Station has led some critics to perceive this cultural revival as a threat to the city’s strides towards progression or a hazard to the current economic system—a concept explored in this talk. 

Hailing from the United Kingdom, Professor Simon Thurley obtained his BA in History at Bedford College, his MA in Art History at Courtauld Institute of Art and obtained his PhD also at Courtauld.

As a child, Professor Thurley stumbled upon important Roman remains while digging through his parents’ garden. He is now a famous academic and leading architectural historian. Currently acting as a Visiting Professor at Gresham College, he formerly served as Chief Executive of English Heritage, the Government's principal advisor on the historical environment in England, from 2002 to 2015. During this period, Professor Thurley was responsible for major restoration projects—the most recent of which was the restoration of the Stonehenge landscape. Prior to joining English Heritage, Professor Thurley served as the Director of the Museum of London, the world's largest city museum. 

Additionally, Professor Thurley was the curator of Historic Royal Palaces, the organisation that is responsible for Hampton Court Palace, the Tower of London, Kensington Palace, the Banqueting House, Whitehall and Kew Palace. In addition to publishing 11 books, Professor Thurley has made regular television appearances, often presenting his own programmes on history, archaeology and architecture. His most recent television project, Heritage, is the story of the heritage movement in Britain made for BBC4. Professor Thurley was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2011. 

Members of the RGS, their guests and others are most welcome to attend this event, which is HK$320 for RGS Members and HK$450 for guests and others including free flow of drinks and canapés.


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