Skip to main content
12 April, 2024

How Hong Kong’s Art Month is Reshaping the City’s Identity

If you happen to wander around Tamar Park in Central, you might be surprised to find hundreds of 2-meter-tall eggs scattered across the grass field and floating in the harbor. As a part of Hong Kong’s Art@Harbour 2024 initiatives, this exhibition is a collaboration between the international art collective teamLab, the government, and other local sponsors, and it’s already a hit on Instagram feeds. People are lining up to take photos of the illuminated eggs, which continuously change colors and emit chiming sounds as people interact with them. The government has funded HK$50 million in taxpayer money to sponsor the installation, along with other art projects, to brand the city as an artistic hub and attract visitors, including both locals and tourists.

Art has been one of the hottest topics in Hong Kong. With the city naming March “Arts Month” and curating events and exhibitions in the nooks and crannies of its streets, the vibrant cultural scene has drawn both locals and tourists into a colorful tapestry of creative expression. One of the first iconic art installations taking place in Hong Kong might have been the yellow rubber duck at the Victoria Harbour, back in 2013. The giant rubber duck, created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, drew more than 8 million visitors to Victoria Harbour and made a comeback in 2023. The impact of infusing art into different corners of the city is immense – not only for attracting tourists but also for the locals. The impact of integrating art into various parts of the city is undeniable—not only does it draw in tourists, but it also enriches the lives of local residents, fostering a communal sense of pride and cultural engagement.

Building on this flourishing art scene, Hong Kong’s calendar is filled up with events, exhibitions, installations, and other attractions that draw in thousands of visitors, providing a significant boost to businesses that thrive on tourism revenue. The hotel industry, in particular, is experiencing a renaissance; events such as Art Basel and Art Central are expected to drive occupancy rates in nearby hotels to 100 percent, according to industry chiefs. This surge in visitor numbers is not only a boon for hoteliers but also for the broader economy of the city. Moreover, the organic earned media attention on social media platforms has been invaluable, as images and stories of Hong Kong’s art events spread virally, further bolstering the city’s reputation as a premier artistic hub and a vibrant travel destination.

Bringing in new art installations is not always a magic fix. Evoking mixed reactions, the “Chubby Hearts Hong Kong” installation, which targeted couples for the Valentine’s season, was criticized for receiving HK$7.8 million in government funding. Critics demanded transparency in determining the sponsorship amount and pointed out the installation’s lack of originality and its failure to attract a significant number of visitors to justify the taxpayer money spent. Moreover, there is a growing hope that government investment in these projects will provide more opportunities for local artists, despite the immediate tourist draw typically associated with international collaborations.

As the “Art@Harbour 2024” initiative and similar projects continue to unfold beyond Arts Month, Hong Kong reaffirms its dedication to becoming a beacon of artistic innovation and cultural dynamism. The city finds itself navigating the delicate balance between public engagement, artistic expression, and fiscal responsibility, standing at the precipice of defining its identity as an international art hub in the modern era. Moving forward, the hope is that the city will continue to harness the transformative power of art to unite, inspire, and propel its status not only as a center of tourism but also as a cradle for nurturing local talent and fostering a rich cultural legacy.