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Speech by CS at inauguration of IIC International Training Centre for Conservation and opening ceremony of 2015 training programme (with photos)
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     Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, at the inauguration of the International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (IIC) International Training Centre for Conservation (IIC-ITCC) and the opening ceremony of the 2015 training programme in Beijing today (September 20):

Dr Shan (Jixiang), Ms (Sarah) Staniforth, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good morning! It gives me great pleasure to be back at the Palace Museum to witness the inauguration of the IIC International Training Centre for Conservation and the launch of its first training programme. Last September, Hong Kong hosted the IIC Biennial Congress for the first time in Southeast Asia. Under the theme "An Unbroken History: Conserving East Asian Works of Art and Heritage", some 500 specialists and scholars from 30 countries and regions gathered in Hong Kong to exchange their professional knowledge and share the latest research findings in the field of cultural heritage conservation. We are pleased that Hong Kong has served as the platform for IIC and the Palace Museum to explore deeper collaboration, culminating in the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two organisations in promoting research and exchange of expertise and training in conservation internationally. Within a short span of 12 months, this exciting initiative has come to fruition and we are here today to share the joy of this remarkable achievement.

     The birth of the IIC-ITCC signifies the strong commitment and shared vision of both parties to enhancing the professionalism and collaboration on heritage conservation at the international level. I would like to pay special tribute to Dr Shan Jixiang, who was awarded the prestigious Forbes Prize last year, in initiating the partnership. I also applaud Ms Staniforth, Dr Shan Jixiang and their team for their exemplary leadership in delivering this ground-breaking initiative. Special thanks go to the Palace Museum for taking the lead and serving as the training ground for nurturing conservation expertise for the benefit of the region and the world at large.

     As an internationally reputable professional body, IIC is renowned for its commitment to advancing knowledge, practice and standards in conservation throughout the world vide its publications and academic conferences. With a view to promoting professional excellence and public awareness, IIC supports promising students and conservators in their pursuits of conservation endeavours, and awards outstanding contributions and achievements in the field. Given IIC's competitive edge in conservation expertise and the Palace Museum's unparalleled wealth in national treasures, the tie and collaboration between these two internationally-renowned institutions will undoubtedly offer a superb opportunity for conservators to acquire the latest expert knowledge, broaden their horizons, as well as to expand their network in the field. IIC-ITCC will serve as a hub for connecting conservators from the East and the West where sharing of knowledge, experience and addressing of varied challenges in their professional obligations can take place. Our future generations will surely benefit from the concerted effort of the two partnering institutions in IIC-ITCC today.

     I take pride in Hong Kong's role in this meaningful collaboration and I very much look forward to continuing this collaborative journey with the Palace Museum and IIC in the years ahead. Taking this opportunity, I am pleased to share another piece of good news with you. Building on the co-operation with the Palace Museum since 2012, Hong Kong will sign a Letter of Intent on Staff Professional Development and Exchange with the Palace Museum later this afternoon. It symbolises that the synergy of Hong Kong museums and the Palace Museum will scale new heights in the years to come. Blessed with the unique relationship between the Palace Museum and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government, we have been able to bring the exquisite national art treasures of the Palace Museum to Hong Kong through an array of thematic exhibitions over the years for appreciation by the general public. As exemplified by the "Western Scientific Instruments of the Qing Court" exhibition currently on display at the Hong Kong Science Museum, the Palace Museum has generously loaned out 120 select relics for the exhibition, which has in effect attracted an impressive visitation of some 170 000 people within a short span of three months. I am sure our collaboration will further deepen in the years to come.

     Similar to other cultural metropolis, Hong Kong has a diverse and vibrant cultural scene by virtue of its networks which extend wide and far, spanning from Mainland China to across the continents. The HKSAR Government attaches great importance to the promotion of arts and culture and strives to render an environment that is conducive to art development and heritage preservation. In line with this vision, we are committed to developing the West Kowloon Cultural District and superstructure works on the museum for contemporary arts íV M+ íV will commence later this month. In addition, works are underway to embark on the major renovation and expansion of the Hong Kong Museum of Art and plans are in hand to enhance our other museum facilities. Apart from supporting the missions of our museums, we have also accorded priority to the preservation of the diminishing intangible cultural heritage as a means to recapture the cultural significance and merits of our past. Also, we have been pressing ahead in these years to preserve the identified historic buildings through schemes of revitalisation and adaptive re-use. Striking a continuous balance between heritage preservation and sustainable development, forthcoming revitalisation projects will not only integrate into the everyday life of the city, but encompass the elements of creativity, potency and vigour in transforming the heritage buildings into unique and distinctive cultural landmarks in their respective domains.

     I sincerely invite IIC members and all of you to visit Hong Kong again to witness the transformation of the cultural scene in the coming years. Hong Kong treasures its links with IIC and will be pleased to forge closer collaboration with conservation practitioners from around the world.

     On the auspicious occasion of the 90th anniversary of the Palace Museum, may I wish the museum every success in its future endeavours. Lastly, may I wish the inaugural training programme a resounding success and every one of you a fruitful stay in Beijing.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the speech.)

Ends/Sunday, September 20, 2015
Issued at HKT 12:48

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