Minnie Wang
May 14, 2021

Legendary Hong Kong theatre becomes a cultural icon again

INSPIRATION STATION: An exhibit by a real estate developer celebrates the 1950s grandeur of a 1400-seat movie house now slated for redevelopment as a cultural landmark.

Legendary Hong Kong theatre becomes a cultural icon again

A one-month exhibition titled 'Discover the State Theatre in All of Us' has received an overwhelming response in Hong Kong since its opening in April and has now been extended until 16 May by the organiser, Culture for Tomorrow (a non-profit organisation founded by New World Development).

The exhibit lets visitors experience a taste of what the State Theatre, a 68-year-old cultural landmark in the city's North Point neighbourhood, was like in its heyday. The 1400-seat theatre, which closed in 1997 after a 1995 fire, narrowly avoided destruction and has been designated a historical building. New World has slated it for a multibillion-dollar redevelopment plan that will see it reopen as a cultural landmark in 2026. 

Invitations for the exhibition, full of artefacts from the theater's past, have been fully booked in advance. And on Instagram, the theater's parabolic rooftop exoskeleton structure, also known as the "flying trusses," has become a trendy spot. 

Entering the lobby, exhibit visitors choose their seats from a piece of the traditional floor plan of the theatre and receive vintage-style movie tickets. Then, they enjoy an immersive experience inside the world of the State Theatre and its predecessor, the Empire Theatre, dating back to when North Point was referred to as "little Shanghai" in the 1950s. 

New World Development presented the pop-up exhibition, which will soon move to another New World property, K11 Musea, as conservation work begins at the theatre itself. "The State Theatre will return as a new cultural performing arts landmark," said Adrian Cheng, CEO of New World Development and the founder of Culture for Tomorrow. 

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