Tai Kwun Launches New Permanent Heritage Exhibitions in B Hall & D Hall

The new galleries kickstart a multiyear project for refreshing and enriching curatorial interpretation across the site to deepen understanding of its heritage values.

The beginning of a multiyear project that aims to inspire continuous discovery of the site, Tai Kwun unveils two brand-new permanent heritage exhibitions Victoria Prison: B Hall & D Hall, open to the public from 16 November 2023.

Based on newly uncovered research that deepens our understanding of the site’s complex histories real people, and their experiences within the prison walls, the two galleries curated by Dr. Anita Chung, Head of Heritage, alongside Curatorial Research Fellow Maggie Chan, reveal the layered legacies of the defunct prison. The new heritage interpretation highlights the multiple dimensions of Victoria Prison as a monument, an experiential reality, a metaphor, and a heritage place. History enthusiasts, culture lovers and the general public alike are invited to deepen their understanding of Victoria Prison’s design, functionality, evolution, and uncover how it embodies histories imbued with meaning for today and for the future.

Featuring multivocal narratives about the prison — including the voices of retired correctional officers, ex-inmates, and a prison chaplain Rev. Prof. Tobias Brandner, alongside various creative expressions such as graffiti and music created by inmates that reveal touching moments of reconnecting with memories, loved ones, and freedom — the exhibitions showcase the different dimensions of authenticity in heritage. The interpretation highlights the historic prison as a transformed heritage site for reconciliation, for transcending the wall of separation, and for connecting all people, including the vulnerable and the marginalised.

The planning and creative process of the new heritage exhibitions have involved audience surveys, expert consultation workshops, and transdisciplinary research that directly engages stakeholders, especially those who have personal experiences of the historic prison. It is this process of collaboration—which underlines the value of inclusive participation and the respect for different voices—that has made the realisation of this project meaningful and fulfilling,” said Anita Chung, Head of Heritage at Tai Kwun.

More than a cultural heritage site, Tai Kwun is also a valuable educational resource which holds enormous learning opportunities for all age groups. Since opening, Tai Kwun has welcomed 542 primary and secondary schools, and tertiary institutions to further engage over 54,000 students with participatory learning about history, heritage conservation, and sustainability.

To accompany the new heritage exhibitions, a new series of Tai Kwun Conversations devoted to the prison themes — such as prison chaplaincy, prison ministry, prison literature and restorative justice — as well as another series of Discover Tai Kwun — an online video documentary series about personal experiences of the prison — will be released in parallel with the opening of the B and D Halls.

“In the past 5 years, Tai Kwun has deployed a number of audience engagement strategies to present programmes about its history and heritage values, and has recorded a footfall number of over 4 million visitors to the heritage exhibitions across the site. We would like to invite the public to continue to discover the heritage site and explore how the historic prison continues to create meaning for our present society,” said Chin Chin Teoh, Director of JCCPS.

B Hall: What is Prison Life Like?
Unfolding the site’s complex histories, this gallery answers an essential question: “When a historic prison becomes a heritage place, what is its cultural significance for past, present, and future generations?”

D Hall: What Hurts? What Heals?
Housed in the last remnant of the radial plan prison, the D Hall exhibition probes into the wounds of incarceration and celebrates the human spirit’s ability to mend. Rare historical photographs tell the story of how Victoria Prison witnessed prison reform and incorporated rehabilitative measures over time. It incorporates creative works that express the inner state of mind and the transformative process of those in custody.

Tai Kwun Conversations: PRISON Series – Transcending the Walls of Separation
Date: 4 December 2023 (Monday)
Time: 7pm-8:30pm
Venue: JC Cube, Tai Kwun
Speakers: Rev. Prof. Tobias Brandner and Nancy Loo

Tai Kwun Conversations: PRISON Series – Dai Wangshu and Literary Maps of the Central and Western District
Date: 8 January 2024 (Monday)
Time: 7pm-8:30pm
Venue: JC Cube, Tai Kwun
Speakers: Prof. Chan Chi Tak and Prof. Wong Nim Yan

Tai Kwun Conversations: PRISON Series – The Healing Walls
Date: 5 February 2024 (Monday)
Time: 7pm-8:30pm
Venue: JC Cube, Tai Kwun
*More details will be announced in December

Discover Tai Kwun III
Online series to be released in Spring 2024

Photos Credit: Tai Kwun