Museum of Coastal Defense
Located in Shau Kei Wan, this branch museum of the Museum of History stands on what used to be Lei Yue Mun Fort — a 100-year-old redoubt on the eastern harbor of Hong Kong Island. First built by the British in 1887, the fort saw the December 1941 Japanese invasion during World War II. After the war, it was used as a training ground for the British Armed Forces up until Hong Kong returned to Chinese sovereignty.
Im 1993, it was decided that the fort should be converted to a museum, and the museum opened to the public in July 2000. The museum’s exhibits span 600 years of Hong Kong’s coastal defense history, from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) to the present. 400 military artifacts, including guns, torpedoes and military uniforms are on display.
In addition, there’s an outdoor historical trail that takes visitors through military relics such as tunnels, observation posts, magazines and torpedo stations. The trail offers beautiful views of the Lei Yue Mun channel on the eastern harbor.
175 Tung Hei Road. Shau Kei Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2569 1500
Hong Kong Science Museum
The Hong Kong Science Museum opened April 1991 with the aim of popularizing science, technology and astronomy among the general public. It occupies a four-story building in Tsim Sha Tsui East, with 6,500 square meters of exhibition space. Containing over 500 exhibits — many of them interactive — the museum can be enjoyed by visitors of all ages.
The museum’s signature exhibit is the Energy Machine, a 22-meter-high contraption spanning all of the museum’s four levels. It features a 1.6km-long metal track designed for rolling balls: demonstrating 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.
Hong Kong Museum of History
The Hong Kong Museum of History was first born in 1975 — a result of the City Museum and Art Gallery being split into the Hong Kong Museum of History and Hong Kong Museum of Art. Featuring a gross floor area of 17,500 square meters, it remains one of Hong Kong’s most popular museums.
The main attraction is a permanent exhibit called the Hong Kong Story. Spanning two floors and eight galleries, the exhibit chronicles the history of Hong Kong from the very beginning — starting with the Devonian period 400 million years ago. From there, visitors are taken through the Prehistoric age and the development of folk culture, up through the Opium Wars, British rule and World War II, finally ending with the reunification of Hong Kong with China in 1997.
It takes around two and four hours to see all of the Hong Kong Story, which contains 4,000 exhibits including a life-sized recreation of prehistoric life, a replica of fishing junk, and a bona fide double-decker tram from 1913. Plus, visitors get the chance to learn about the different ethnic groups (the Hakka, the Punti, Boat Dwellers and Hoklo) of Hong Kong and their unique folk cultures.
Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Hong Kong, +852 2724 9042
Hong Kong Heritage Museum
This museum houses six permanent galleries and six special exhibits over an exhibition space of 7,500 square meters. 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 permanent exhibitions include the Cantonese Opera Heritage Hall, which consists of a beautifully reconstructed bamboo theatre where you can watch videos of old operas (English subtitles included); and the T.T. Tsui Gallery, featuring fine and decorative Chinese art including ceramics, pottery and bronzes.
For Bruce Lee fans, the museum has collaborated with the Bruce Lee Foundation to create an entire exhibition dedicated to the martial arts legend. Running until 2018, the collection contains 600 items of Bruce Lee’s memorabilia, including original letters to his wife, notebooks filled with doodles, fight choreography sketches, exclusive interviews and more.
1 Man Lam Road, Sha Tin, Hong Kong, +852 2180 8188
Hong Kong Space Museum
Located on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, this museum contains Hong Kong’s first planetarium and is recognizable for the building’s distinctive egg-shaped dome. The Stanley Ho Space Theatre, which provides screenings of science documentaries on a regular basis, boasts a fully-automated 3D OMNIMAX film projector.
Hong Kong Space Museum’s two permanent exhibition halls are currently closed for renovation until the end of 2016. In the meantime, the museum’s film screenings, temporary exhibitions and stargazing activities are still available.
10 Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 2721 0226