A visit to one of Hong Kong’s museums provides an excellent opportunity to learn more about the fascinating history that has shaped this great city and its unique culture. Spanning history, science, the arts and even space, these are just a handful of the diverse Hong Kong museums that are well worth a visit.
Located in Sha Tin, the museum’s distinctive architecture is an example of a traditional Chinese siheyuan (a compound consisting of a central courtyard surrounded by buildings on all four sides). Highlights of the six permanent exhibitions include the Cantonese Opera Heritage Hall, a beautifully reconstructed bamboo theatre where you can watch videos of old operas with English subtitles, and the TT Tsui Gallery, which features fine and decorative Chinese art including ceramics, pottery and bronzes. The museum is also a must-visit for Bruce Lee fans, as a collaboration with the Bruce Lee Foundation has led to an entire exhibition dedicated to the martial arts legend that will run until 20 July 2020. The collection contains 600 items of the star’s memorabilia, including original letters to his wife, notebooks filled with doodles, fight choreography sketches and exclusive interviews.
Home to Hong Kong’s first planetarium, the Hong Kong Space Museum is easy to spot on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront due to its distinctive egg-shaped dome. Following a HK$32 million upgrade in 2018, the museum opened two new exhibition halls, the Hall of the Cosmos and Hall of Space Exploration, which house a range of interactive new displays. Visitors have the chance to experience what it’s like to be weightless in a space station in the Disorientation in Space experience or explore virtual galaxies on a surfboard in the Gravity Surfing exhibit.
Hong Kong’s one-of-a-kind history is truly worth exploring, and there’s no better place to learn more about it than at the Hong Kong Museum of History. The main attraction is a permanent display called the Hong Kong Story. Comprising eight galleries complete with striking life-size replicas and dozens of multimedia displays, the exhibit takes you on a fascinating journey through the history that has shaped the city and its culture. It covers the development of the territory, from its earliest days to British rule and the reunification with China in 1997. The museum’s archaeology and local history collections number over 70,000 items, so there’s plenty to observe. It’s also interesting to see how Hong Kong presents its own story to the world.
This former Central Police Station complex has been transformed into a centre for heritage and arts in one of the city’s biggest ever conservation projects, costing HK$3.8 billion. The focus here is on contemporary art, and the venue hosts six to eight exhibitions every year as well as regular performing arts programmes. Visitors have the chance to explore the site’s history through designated heritage storytelling spaces dotted throughout the site, and through the tours offered of the historic Central Police Station compound and Hong Kong’s first prison, Victoria Prison. It is an excellent starting place to reflect on Hong Kong’s storied colonial history. The complex also includes great restaurants, a handful of bars and local artisan boutique shops to refuel and pick up some souvenirs after exploring the museum and gallery.
The Hong Kong Science Museum contains over 500 exhibits that offer an interactive exploration of science, technology and astronomy. The museum’s signature exhibit is the Energy Machine, a 22-metre-high (72 feet) contraption spanning all of the museum’s four levels. It features a 1.6-kilometre-long (one mile) metal track designed for rolling balls; it demonstrates the principle of energy conversion as the balls hit drums and gongs along the path. The machine is more than 20 years old and is one of the world’s largest kinetic sculptures. Other permanent exhibitions include the entertaining World of Mirrors gallery, where you can see yourself distorted, squished and elongated in various reflections, and the Transport section on the third floor, which features a DC-3 airliner suspended from the ceiling.
The Hong Kong Maritime Museum, in the heart of the Central Harbour Waterfront, is the place to go to peruse an extensive collection of historical objects that span the history of trade and maritime in Hong Kong. Be sure not to miss the KM Koo Ship Bridge simulator located on the A-deck of the museum. This professional-grade simulator allows visitors to experience what it’s like to steer a variety of ships that sail on local waterways and in different weather conditions. These include a container barge, high-speed boat and even the famous iconic Star Ferry. The museum also features a wonderful exhibition taking the visitor through Hong Kong’s development as a port from 1841 through to the creation of the Victoria Harbour.
Situated next door to the Space Museum on the Tsim Tsa Tsui waterfront, the most famous of Hong Kong’s art museums is home to a collection of over 16,000 art objects, including Chinese paintings and calligraphy, Chinese antiquities and China trade art as well as works by local artists. In an ongoing artist exchange programme, international artists also regularly exhibit here. The museum has been closed for renovation and expansion since August 2015 but is due to reopen in November 2019 with a new annex block capable of accommodating larger and more monumental contemporary artworks.
Constructed in 1846 as the Headquarter House for Major-General George Charles D’Aguilar, this building is the oldest example of Western architecture in the Central District. It received the name ‘Flagstaff House’ in 1932 and housed the commander of the British forces until 1978. It is now the Museum of Tea Ware in Hong Kong, giving visitors a glimpse into China’s tea-drinking culture and ceremonies through several exhibitions, demonstrations, tea gatherings and lectures. Situated inside Hong Kong Park, the Museum of Tea Ware also offers free parking and admission.
Hong Kong’s film industry was once the third largest motion picture industry in the world. This five-storey archive-museum plays an important role in preserving the city’s cinematic heritage by conserving Hong Kong films and related artefacts. The museum hosts regular retrospective screenings, exhibitions, seminars and symposiums on film. There’s also a screening theatre and a multimedia library that houses cinema-related books and old copies of movies available for those wishing to research Hong Kong’s impressive film history.