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"Banknotes that Tell a Story" exhibition opens today

"Banknotes that Tell a Story", a joint presentation by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) and the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC), is officially opened today (April 27).

Members of the public can look at 317 invaluable historical banknotes and artefacts featured at the exhibition from tomorrow until November 8 at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum.

Top exhibits include never-before-shown banknotes, sketches, artwork and printing plates which have been selected from HSBC's collection. Other valuable exhibits include the newly launched 2003 banknote series, the gold models of HSBC headquarters buildings completed in 1935 and 1985, and historical photographs. The exhibition will enable visitors to get a glimpse of the history of banknote design in Hong Kong.

Moreover, it is also an inauguration exhibition of the "Design Infinity" exhibition series launched by the Heritage Museum this year.

Officiating at the opening ceremony today was the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Patrick Ho Chi-ping; the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Mr Joseph Yam; the General Manager of HSBC, Mr Raymond Or and the Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Ms Anissa Wong Sean-yee.

Mr Ho said at the opening ceremony that Hong Kong had made remarkable achievements with its sound financial and economic system, and gaining a reputation as the financial centre in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Looking at the history of banknotes in Hong Kong over the past 150 odd years is like reading a book printed with many fascinating stories of the territory," Mr Ho said.

He also expressed his gratitude to the HSBC for lending invaluable banknotes and artefacts for showing, and thanked the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and other local note-issuing banks for lending their collection in support of the exhibition.

Banknotes designed in different eras have different characteristics. From the early simple banknotes printed with only two colours to the lively and complex design of the present day, banknotes in Hong Kong have undergone significant changes in their colour, size, patterns and security features.

Through the 110 banknotes on display, the exhibition is meant to introduce the history and changes of banknote design in Hong Kong. It will also investigate into the ways in which banknote design is affected by such factors as societal, economic and technological advancement.

The exhibition summarises the characteristics of banknote design during the past 150 years in four phases, as the time of simplicity from 1845 to 1899, the time of variety from 1900 to 1958, the time of localisation from 1959 to 2002, and the time of new-era design starting 2003.

With valuable banknotes on show, the evolution of banknote design -- from simplicity and straightforwardness, all the way to the great variety and the adoption of mythical figures and vignettes, the transformation from colonial styles to local features, and finally as a solemn representation and dignity of the note-issuing bank and the nation -- is investigated. There is also a video show featuring the design process of the new banknote series issued by HSBC.

To give visitors a better grasp of the history of banknote design, a "time line" is specially designed at the entrance of the exhibition gallery. With a barrel vault ceiling decorated with a vast and colourful mosaic illustrating the themes of trade and finance between East and West, the exhibition gallery reflects the splendour of the hall of HSBC headquarters building in 1935.

Apart from visiting the exhibition, visitors can also take part in the "A Quiz A Week" and the "My Hong Kong Banknote Design Competition". The quiz will run throughout the exhibition period. Five winners will be selected every week and they will receive a crystal model of the HSBC Main Building.

The "My Hong Kong Banknote Design Competition" will be held in July and August. It will be divided into Children and Open divisions. The winner, 1st runner-up and 2nd runner-up of the Children Division will receive a book coupon and get to visit the HSBC Treasury. A set of new HSBC banknotes, each comprising denominations of 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000, will be awarded to three winners of the Open Division. The numbering of the three banknote sets will be: AB111111, AB222222 and AB333333 respectively.

For details of the activities, please visit the Heritage Museum's website at or call 2180 8260.

Located at 1 Man Lam Road, Sha Tin, the Heritage Museum is open from 10am to 6pm Monday to Saturday, and from 10am to 7pm on Sundays and public holidays. It is closed on Tuesdays (except public holidays).

Admission is $10, with a half-price concession for full-time students, people with disabilities and senior citizens aged 60 or above. Admission is free on Wednesdays.

A free shuttlebus operates between the Sha Tin KCR Station and the Heritage Museum from 1pm to 6pm on Saturdays and from 1pm to 7pm on Sundays and public holidays.

For details of the exhibition, call 2180 8188.

Ends/Tuesday, April 27, 2004
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