Tai Kwun, located in the heart of Hong Kong, is a historic site turned cultural hub that has become a must-visit attraction for locals and tourists alike. Tai Kwun, which means “big station” in Cantonese, was originally built in the mid-19th century as a British colonial police station, magistracy, and prison. After years of restoration and renovation, it was reopened in 2018 as a center for heritage and arts.
Tai Kwun is a unique mix of old and new architecture, featuring three heritage buildings – the Barrack Block, the Former Central Police Station, and the Victoria Prison – and two new buildings that house contemporary art and exhibition spaces. It is a vibrant hub for cultural events, exhibitions, and performances, as well as a place to learn about the history and heritage of Hong Kong.
The three heritage buildings at Tai Kwun are impressive examples of colonial architecture, each with its own unique history and stories to tell. The Barrack Block was the first building constructed on the site in the 1860s and was used as quarters for British soldiers. It now houses a visitor center, a gift shop, and exhibition spaces.
The Former Central Police Station was built in the early 1900s and was the headquarters of the Hong Kong Police Force until 2004. It has been restored and converted into an arts and heritage center that includes exhibition spaces, a cinema, a restaurant, and a bar.
The Victoria Prison, which was in use until 2006, was once one of the most notorious prisons in Hong Kong. Visitors can now take a guided tour of the prison to learn about its history and the conditions that prisoners faced.
Contemporary Art and Exhibition Spaces
In addition to the heritage buildings, Tai Kwun features two new buildings that house contemporary art and exhibition spaces. The JC Contemporary building, which opened in 2018, is a sleek, modern structure that features a rooftop sculpture garden and exhibition spaces for contemporary art.
The JC Cube building, which opened in 2019, is a multi-purpose space that hosts a variety of cultural events and exhibitions. It features a 200-seat theater, a rehearsal room, and a gallery space.
Events and Exhibitions
Tai Kwun is a vibrant hub for cultural events and exhibitions, with a packed schedule of performances, workshops, and exhibitions throughout the year. The center hosts a variety of events, including music performances, theater productions, film screenings, and art exhibitions.
One of the most popular events at Tai Kwun is the Summer International Arts Festival, which takes place annually and features a diverse range of performances and events from around the world.
Education and Heritage
In addition to hosting events and exhibitions, Tai Kwun is also a place to learn about the history and heritage of Hong Kong. The center offers guided tours of the heritage buildings and the Victoria Prison, as well as educational programs for schools and the general public.
The Tai Kwun Heritage Interpretive Programme offers a range of tours and talks that explore the history of the site and the role it played in Hong Kong’s development. The program also offers workshops and educational activities for schools and families.
Dining and Shopping
Tai Kwun is also home to a variety of dining and shopping options, with several restaurants, cafes, and bars on site. The center’s restaurants feature a mix of local and international cuisine, with options ranging from casual dining to fine dining.
The center’s gift shop, located in the Barrack Block, offers a range of souvenirs, books, and gifts related to Tai Kwun and Hong Kong’s history and culture.