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Palaces on the Seas: The Golden Age of French Ocean Liners

28 May 2014 - 26 Aug 2014

This special exhibition featured the golden age of travel on French ocean liners in the latenineteenth and early twentieth century, when fine design and the art of living were an integral part of long distance trips. Immense and majestic, these French lines embodied the French lifestyle and the splendor of French culture. These “Palaces on the Seas” carried travelers who desired comfort, modernity and a new horizon all over the world, including the Far East. 

This exhibition focuses on two large French cruise lines, Compagnie Générale Transatlantique and Les Messageries Maritimes. More than 200 objects, including posters, drawings, silverware, ship models, costumes, illustrated books, and photographs, will be displayed. Most of these objects are displayed to the public in Hong Kong for the first time,presentinga unique chance for visitors to experience a travel in a French art style.

Keen to surprise and to satisfy their passengers, both lines invited renowned artists to decorate their interiors including architects and designers such as Dominique, Rulhmann, Lanel and Laique, and French Marine painters such as Brenet and Sebille, poster designers Colin, Cassandre, and Sandy-Hook. Major French manufactures including Christofle, Ercuis, Puiforcat, Saint Louis, and Haviland also combined their creativity and skills to develop these floating palaces.

This exhibition was co-organised by the Consulate General of France in Hong Kong & Macau and the Hong Kong Maritime Museum in association with the French Lines as part of Le French May arts festival 2014. The Exhibition exclusively sponsored by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, with the support of the Peninsula Hotel.

Organized activiites included public talks, schools and community programming, family activities and guided tours.