The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Art Initiatives and Special Collections between Research and Community Engagement


Dr. Marco Caboara
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Raymond Rohne
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology



Established in 1991, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. In this period the University has reached international recognition and it has been ranked first in the Times Higher Education Young University Rankings in 2019 and second by QS world's under-50 universities in 2020.

While its reputation is above all build upon its excellence in the two schools of science and engineering, the university has other two academic schools, covering business and management as well as humanities and social science.

This academic structure shows a recognition and championing of the links between science and humanities and a commitment to a holistic education, which has brought since the beginning to use art installations and exhibitions to engage the academic community and more widely the Hong Kong public.

The first part of the paper, authored by Ray Rohne, will review HKUST’s initial period, when exhibitions in the library and usage of art across the campus brought a very active engagement of local artists of international renown.

The second part will cover the special role of Library’s Special Collections of Antique Maps of China, which is the largest collection of European printed maps on China in East Asia, in promoting both research and community engagement.

The maps are held in the Special Collections Room and are periodically displayed in the Special Collections Gallery, both situated in the library. As the University does not have an academic museum, the Special Collections Room and Gallery have been used as final stop in visits by academics and VIPs to display unique items. Its items have also frequently been given on loan to local public and academic museums.

Thanks to a private donation, the collection has been recently expanded in two directions: 1) to support a research project covering all Western printed maps of China from the first published in Europe, in 1584, to the largest and most updated Atlas of Maps of China published by French Jesuits in Paris on the basis of the first Chinese systematic cartographic survey of the whole country; 2) to cover Chinese and Japanese maps of China, East Asia and the world.

The research project will result in the publication of a book by the academic publisher Brill, a website hosted by the University, a large exhibition in the university auditorium and a course on the history of cartography taught by the map curator to accompany the map exhibition.

The exhibition will be hosted in the university’s new venue for cultural activities, the Shaw Auditorium.

The third part of the paper, written jointly by the two authors, will explore present and future art activities across the university, both in the library and in this new venue, and the projects to engage the HKUST community in these activities both on campus and online.

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