Hong Kong is a bustling, ultra-modern city with an ancient past. This contrast is captured and displayed to perfection in the Hong Kong Museum of History. By means of dozens of interactive videos and computers, alongside hand-sculpted or carefully selected artifacts, Hong Kong’s long history is shown.
An introductory exhibit shows the history of the harbor and surroundings as far back as 400 million years, showing it’s geological formation and the development of local plant and animal life. In a room the size of a commercial airplane hangar, visitors can see and read about the tigers and black bears that used to occupy the area. The exhibit is accompanied by Natural History-style Neolithic exhibits of early Chinese mankind.
Fast forward to the more ‘recent’ 2,000 BC and the beginnings of Hong Kong civilization. Here we find dozens of examples of pottery, jewelry and other man-made objects from China’s early civilized period.
Museum-goers will get a sense of the life of the average Chinese by boarding a fishing ship in one exhibit. Surrounded by statues and puppets the life of a fishing family in Hong Kong harbor is vividly recreated. Exhibits explaining life in the Ming and Qing dynasties demonstrate why there was a mass migration to Hong Kong during those centuries.
A third of the museum is devoted to Hong Kong’s British colonial period, beginning about 200 years ago. Portrayed by a harbor and street scene that tourists can walk in and around, you’ll see the cargo on the wharf as it appeared generations before Hong Kong entered it’s modern phase. Realism is maximized by recreations of the docks, a period tea shop and others. The floor even vibrates with the hum of a steamer engine.
Visitors can see genuine photographs of Hong Kong streets as they were 100 years ago. You’ll see reminders of the Opium Wars along with Sun Yat-Sen’s activities that led to the establishment of the Chinese Republic.
Further down the hall is a large exhibit showing the Japanese occupation during WWII, complete with an air raid shelter and booming sound effects.
Film clips from the 1960s show the beginnings of Hong Kong’s leap into the jet age. A series of exhibits catalogs some of the tragic disasters that have tested the spirit of these indomitable people.
Zoom ahead to the latest ultra-modern skyscraper. Photos and model displays show visitors the Hong Kong they can see out the windows. Some of the most innovative buildings along some of the world’s busiest streets remind visitors of New York times ten.
Now housed in a stylish, modern building, the museum was formed in 1962 and split from the Hong Kong Museum of Art in 1975. Small by British Museum or Smithsonian standards, at 17,500 square meters, the museum will nonetheless entrance visitors for hours.
The museum is easy to reach by the subway system. Take the MTR to Tsim Sha Tsui. Take exit B2 and walk along Cameron Road. Or take the Star Ferry from Central district then board the bus. The museum is located at 100 Chatham Road South, next door to the Science Museum.
“Hong Kong Museum of History costumes” by annainaustin