Culture  Le French May Arts Festival 2018: Cabinets of Curiosities
16/05/201800:00 TV5MONDE
Established in 1993, Le French May is one of the largest cultural events in Asia. With more than 120 programmes presented over the course of two months, it has become an iconic part of Hong Kong’s cultural scene, reaching over 1 million visitors each year. From heritage and contemporary arts, paintings and design, to classical music and hip-hop dance, cinema and circus, the festival has been both truly international and distinctly local, while contributing to the unique appeal of Asia’s World City.
What for you is France? Visit Le French May for more!

This May, Le French May Arts Festival is pleased to present an exciting exhibition, entitled "Cabinets of Curiosities – From the Natural Sciences to the Art of Nature". The exhibition sheds light on the ongoing fascination of European collectors with exotic animals, plants, natural minerals, fossils, and expensive art objects. The exhibition is made possible with tremendous support from the City University of Hong Kong, Maecenae Association, Nicolas Patrzynski, Maison Deyrolle, Agro ParisTech, Musée du Vivant, Kraemer Gallery, and Pierre-Alain Challier Gallery.

From the 16th century onwards, European explored the so-called "New World", and through these expeditions in Asia, America, Africa, and Oceania, they brought artefacts (natural and artificial) back to Europe. The beauty, strangeness and rarity of the objects fascinated the European collectors, with many of these items eventually going on display in private and royal collections as curios, placed in richly decorated cabinets or small rooms, all with the aim to show and impress.

Such “cabinets of curiosities” inspired 18th and 19th century scholars to develop their scientific research and to establish an educational system for the study of natural science. This exhibition offers some 250 objects for the public to view. The list of items includes stuffed animals from the Maison Deyrolle, 19th century prints by Boisgontier from the Musée du Vivant, 18th century pieces of furniture and art objects lent by the Kraemer Gallery as well as works by famous contemporary artist Othoniel from the Pierre-Alain Challier Gallery. A wide range of exceptional artefacts from 18th century to the present shows the great diversity and richness acoss these curios. What may be interpreted as mundane items by locals are seen and valued differently by their European collectors. The exhibition aims to raise awareness of the difficulty of preserving this fragile and beautiful nature.


Original “cabinets of curiosities” are rare nowadays, as most have been absorbed into collections and objects were mainly dispersed to corresponding museums. This exhibition brings an incredibly large amount of objects back together to evoke audiences’ imagination, allowing us to travel back in time to witness the age of exploration.

This exhibition is curated by Dr. Isabelle Frank, supporting by two associate curator Gilles Bonnevialle and Nicolas Patrzynski, and is free to the public. Don't miss it and more of Le French May's extensive event listing! For more information, please visit the official websites listed in this article.

Exhibition Information
Open from: 25 May – 19 Aug 2018
Venue: CityU Exhibition Gallery, 18/F Lau Ming Wai Academic Building, Tat Chee Avenue, City University of Hong Kong
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10am – 7pm (Closed on Monday)
Free Admission

Copyright of all images herein belong to the exhibition and its rightful owner(s).
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