Responsible for the most wide-ranging in scope of the museum's collections, the Chinese Antiquities Section has in its custodianship over 4,000 objects in a wonderfully diverse range of media. With exhibits dating from the Neolithic period to the 20th century, the catalogue comprises ceramics - both Chinese, in particular from Guangdong and for export, and Southeast Asian ceramics - and other works of the decorative arts, including bronze, jade, lacquer, enamel and glassware, carved bamboo, wood, ivory and rhinoceros horn, as well as costumes, textiles and furniture. Fashioned for use in everyday life, as ritual objects, as mingqi to be buried with the dead or purely for decoration, each and every item has fortunately been preserved through the ages, escaping the ravages of time to form an essential part of China's rich cultural heritage. What's more, the exhibits in the Chinese Antiquities Collection embody a high degree of creativity and technological skill and thus provide valuable materials for the study of Chinese culture, in particular enabling connoisseurs to conduct comparative studies for the accurate dating of their own collections.
Given Hong Kong's geographic position, it is natural that the arts and crafts of southern China should be a central focus of our collection. As part of our mission to promote the understanding and appreciation of Chinese cultural relics, the Museum of Art has been ardent in its efforts to acquire outstanding artefacts for display, while our collection has been tremendously enriched by generous donations and bequests from the public. Among the most significant of the donations from private connoisseurs are a collection of bamboo carvings received from the estate of Dr Ip Yee in 1985, which highlights the close relationship between this art form and the lifestyle of the Chinese scholar, and two sets of Shiwan pottery donated by Mr Woo Kam-chiu in 1986 and by Mrs Kwok On in 1987, which bear testimony to the achievements of the celebrated Guangdong kiln. Equally important, however, are the many other donations we have received from a number of different institutions and individuals, and their generosity not only reflects their support of the museum, but is also indicative of the growing awareness of the need to preserve our cultural heritage.