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Your ultimate guide to Hong Kong’s museums

By Catharina Cheung 28 September 2020

Header image courtesy of @huedining (via Instagram) 

For such a small city, there are a surprising number of museums dotted around Hong Kong. We suppose this means there’s just so much in our history and culture worth commemorating! Spanning a wide range of topics from modern and classical art, medical sciences, and transportation, to tea and even ancient tombs, here are some of Hong Kong’s best museums to visit.

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Arts & culture

Photo credit: @huedining (via Instagram)
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Hong Kong Museum of Art

The Hong Kong Museum of Art was established way back in 1962 and is the city’s first public art museum. It was closed in 2015 for four years, undergoing extensive renovation and facility upgrades, and finally reopened towards the end of last year with 40 percent more exhibition spaces and galleries. Through the years, the HKMoA has amassed a fantastic collection of works spanning their four main areas of interest: Chinese antiquities, modern and local Hong Kong art, Chinese painting and calligraphy, and China trade art.

Hong Kong Museum of Art, 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2721 0116

Photo credit: @jemina.x (via Instagram)
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Flagstaff House Museum of Teaware

Located within the leafy surroundings of Hong Kong Park, the Flagstaff House building used to be the long-time residence of the Commander of the British forces during our city’s colonial rule. It was built in a Greek revival style and is one of the oldest examples of Western-style architecture that still remains in Hong Kong. An extension of the HKMoA, the Flagstaff House Museum of Teaware obviously specialises in the collection and display of teaware, including the world’s oldest-known extant teapot. They’ve also got a shop selling various kinds of equipment to create a full tea ceremony set.

Flagstaff House Museum of Teaware, Hong Kong Park, 10 Cotton Tree Drive, Central | (+852) 2869 0690

Photo credit: @miblu73 (via Instagram)
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Oi!

Oi! is an innovative venue aiming to nurture young local artists and encourage community art and collaborations. The building that houses this museum was built in 1908 and was home to the headquarters and clubhouse of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club for 30 years—this actually used to be a waterfront location before land reclamation happened. Oi! gets its odd name from a stylised version of Oil Street, on which it is located, paying a little tribute to the old Oil Street Artist Village which was around before its resident artists were relocated by the government to Cattle Depot in 2001. Visit for interesting exhibitions by a young generation of Hong Kong talent.

Oi!, 12 Oil Street, North Point | (+852) 2512 3000

Keep scrolling for the rest of the guide 👇

By Catharina Cheung 16 September 2020
Photo credit: @whatakillj0y (via Instagram)
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Hong Kong Film Archive

Founded in 1993 and a part of the International Federation of Film Archives since 1996, the Hong Kong Film Archive collects, preserves, and sometimes screens Hong Kong films. TVB has given them 1,000 film titles ranging from the 1930s to the 90s for permanent preservation; these include the earliest Chinese film in TVB’s library, Little Heroine (1939), and the earliest Hong Kong film in their library, Female Spy (1947). The archive has its own 125-seat cinema, where archive holdings are screened at a much cheaper admission price than commercial cinemas. Considering Hong Kong was once the third-largest motion picture industry in the world, this is a slice of history well worth visiting.

Hong Kong Film Archive, 50 Lei King Road, Sai Wan Ho | (+852) 2311 5229

Photo credit: @kylauf (via Instagram)
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Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre

A sister venue to Oi!, the Hong Kong Visuals Arts Centre is situated at the top end of Hong Kong Park and provides a venue and facilities for local artists to explore and display works of modern art and sculptures. The arts centre utilises an early twentieth-century building called Cassels Block, a former barracks for married British officers. Stroll around its five floors to see works of wood, metal, clay, and plaster sculptures, prints, and ceramics.

Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre, 7A Kennedy Road, Central | (+852) 2521 3008

Historical

Photo credit: @keimong (via Instagram)
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Hong Kong Museum of History

The old City Museum & Art Gallery was split into the Hong Kong Museum of Art and the Hong Kong Museum of History back in 1975, and instead of works of art, the latter now houses artefacts and exhibits on local history, natural history, archaeology, and ethnography. The must-visit exhibition here is the “Hong Kong Story,” a showcase of the history and development of Hong Kong that is on permanent display in the museum. If you’ve ever wanted to trace our city from 400 million years ago all the way up to the handover in 1997, then this is where you need to go!

Hong Kong Museum of History, 100 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2724 9042

Keep scrolling for the rest of the guide 👇

Photo credit: @cwo.foto (via Instagram)
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Hong Kong Heritage Museum

Sitting in a pretty waterfront location along the Shing Mun River, this is the largest museum building in Hong Kong, and houses displays on the city’s history, art, and culture. It has six galleries for permanent exhibitions, and six others for temporary exhibits. Among the permanent collections, the Cantonese Opera Heritage Hall is particularly worth visiting, as this quintessentially Chinese art form is slowly becoming a sunset industry.

Hong Kong Heritage Museum, 1 Man Lam Road, Sha Tin | (+852) 2180 8188

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Sam Tung Uk Museum

Sam Tung Uk is a 200-year-old Hakka walled village that is a branch museum of the aforementioned Hong Kong Heritage Museum. It was restored as the Sam Tung Uk Museum and was opened to the public in 1987, and has since housed the office for the Hong Kong Intangible Cultural Heritage Centre as well. Aside from the village’s old architectural style, with its symmetrical, chessboard-like layout, ancestral hall, and individual houses, there is also an exhibition area displaying the everyday objects, furniture, and agricultural implements the old residents of Sam Tung Uk would have used in their day.

Sam Tung Uk Museum, 2 Kwu Uk Lane, Tsuen Wan | (+852) 2411 2001

Photo credit: @tony86112001 (via Instagram)
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Sheung Yiu Folk Museum

Also a branch of the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, the Sheung Yiu Folk Museum was originally also a Hakka village built in the late nineteenth century. The village has a neighbouring lime kiln, and both were gazetted as monuments in 1981, opening as a restored museum three years later. To get there, you’ll need to make your way on foot along some of the Pak Tam Chung Nature Trail, but a painstakingly recreated display of rural life in its heyday awaits you. Sheung Yiu Folk Museum also has Hakka dwellings, animal pens, a six-metre watchtower, and other such exhibits to explore.

Sheung Yiu Folk Museum, Pak Tam Chung Nature Trail, Sai Kung | (+852) 2792 6365

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Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum

This museum is conveniently located in Central—and right near the Mid-Levels Escalator, no less—so there’s no excuse not to pop by. The world-renowned revolutionary Dr Sun Yat-sen has always had a close relationship with Hong Kong, as this is where he completed his secondary and tertiary education and is also the birthplace of his revolutionary thoughts and plans of organising an uprising. This dedicated museum gives a comprehensive overview of Dr Sun’s life and career, supplemented by plenty of precious historical artefacts related to him, and also documents Hong Kong’s vital role in the reform movements and revolutionary activities of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum, 7 Castle Road, Mid-Levels, Central | (+852) 2367 6373

Photo credit: @lordwilliamkan (via Instagram)
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Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb Museum

This historical relic dating back to the Eastern Han dynasty was discovered by chance in 1995 when a hill at Lei Cheng Uk Village was in the process of being levelled for the construction of new buildings. After being gazetted and permanently preserved, an exhibition hall was built adjacent to the tomb, displaying pottery and bronze artefacts excavated from the site, with exhibits explaining the geographical situation, discovery, and structure of the ancient relic. To give a wider sense of context, there is also an exhibit on trade passages along the Silk Road in the Han dynasty.

Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb Museum, 41 Tonkin Street, Sham Shui Po | (+852) 2386 2863

Photo credit: @vivifafalalala (via Instagram)
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Law Uk Folk Museum

If you think there’s nothing of historical importance on the far eastern end of Hong Kong Island, you’d be quite wrong. Located only five minutes away from Chai Wan MTR station, Law Uk is an old settlement named after a Hakka family with the Law surname. Built in the time of the Emperor Qianlong, this kind of eighteenth-century village house is rarely found on Hong Kong Island and is a declared historical building. Like the other village house museums on this list, Law Uk Folk Museum has been furnished with village furniture, utensils, and farming implements to recreate the ambience of how the original inhabitants would have lived.

Law Uk Folk Museum, 14 Kut Shing Street, Chai Wan | (+852) 2896 7006

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Social sciences

Photo credit: Chong Fat (via Wikicommons)
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Museum of Ethnology

The first museum of its kind in Hong Kong, the Museum of Ethnology examines artefacts from civilisations all over the world to see how people living under different circumstances have made use of the environment around them to survive and flourish. The fact that humans had the idea of adapting and improving was what made our species successful, and it is this creativity and ingenuity that is being celebrated in this museum. Group bookings are available for guided tours that allow visitors to interact with some of the things on display.

Museum of Ethnology, Lake Egret Nature Park, 2 Hung Lam Drive, Tai Po Kau | (+852) 2657 6657

Photo credit: @hkscm (via Instagram)
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Hong Kong Science Museum

Since opening in 1991, Hong Kong Science Museum has prided itself on being a place where science is popularised and made fun and accessible for the public—there’s a reason why this is still a strong choice for school outings to this day! The museum houses more than 500 exhibits laid out over 6,500 square metres of space, and about 70 percent of them are interactive. The most prominent display is the Energy Machine, the largest device of its kind in the world, measuring 22 metres in height and occupying four floors of space. This exhibit demonstrates energy conversion through the movement of balls through the towers, which sets off dramatic sounds and visual effects.

Hong Kong Science Museum, 2 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2732 3232

Photo credit: @ck.sg_travel (via Instagram)
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Hong Kong Space Museum

This custard bun-shaped building has always been one of the most iconic landmarks along the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront. The space museum is Hong Kong’s first planetarium for the popularisation of astronomy and space science, and houses the Space Theatre which boasts a hemispherical project dome that spans a 23-metre diameter. The museum also has the first OMNIMAX film projector in the eastern hemisphere and is the first planetarium ever to possess a fully automatic control system in the Space Theatre.

Hong Kong Space Museum, 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2721 0226

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Hong Kong Railway Museum

Converted from the old Tai Po Market Railway Station, this open-air, 6,500-square-metre museum is situated in the Tai Po Market town centre. The building itself was constructed in 1913, in the traditional Chinese architectural style of the time, pitched roof and all. Exploring the history and development of Hong Kong’s railway transportation, there are a series of video and multimedia programmes apart from the historic station building, as well as other station facilities. There is also a narrow-gauge steam locomotive, a Diesel Electric Engine No. 51, and six historical coaches on display.

Hong Kong Railway Museum, 13 Shung Tak Street, Tai Po Market, Tai Po | (+852) 2653 3455

Photo credit: @ttlllife (via Instagram)
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Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence

This museum is fittingly housed in an old coastal defence fort which overlooks the Lei Yue Mun channel, built by the British forces in 1887 to defend the sea passage into Victoria Harbour. A permanent exhibition called “600 Years of Coastal Defence” is on display in the museum, showcasing the defences of Hong Kong’s coastline starting from the Ming dynasty, going through two Opium Wars, the Battle of Hong Kong, through to the situation today. Do note that the museum is currently closed for revamps, but keep an eye out for when it will be open for visits again.

Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence, 175 Tung Hei Road, Shau Kei Wan | (+852) 2569 1500

Photo credit: @myhkalbum (via Instagram)
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Fireboat Alexander Grantham Exhibition Gallery

This gallery is interestingly housed within the fireboat Alexander Graham, which went into service in 1953 and was the flagship of the Hong Kong Fire Services Department’s fireboat team. Through the years, it responded to fire alarms and conducted rescue operations in Hong Kong waters and along the shoreline, until being decommissioned in 2002. The Hong Kong Museum of History then acquired this historically significant vessel and converted it into a gallery showcasing firefighting artefacts alongside a range of multimedia displays on marine rescue work in the territories.

Fireboat Alexander Grantham Exhibition Gallery, Quarry Bay Park, Quarry Bay | (+852) 2367 7821

Keep scrolling for the rest of the guide 👇

Photo credit: @shirley__shum (via Instagram)
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Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences

Also known as the Old Pathological Institute, the Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences is in a three-storey Edwardian-style building that was constructed in 1906. Initially designed as a bacteriological institute, this was Hong Kong’s first laboratory of bacteriology, and was handed over to the current museum in 1995. It collects and preserves materials of historical interest relating to the development of the city’s medical industry. There are permanent exhibits on the human body, as well as diseases and medicine in Hong Kong—particularly fitting to visit in a time of coronavirus.

Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences, 2 Caine Lane, Mid-Levels, Central | (+852) 2549 5123

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Hong Kong Maritime Museum

Covering the topics of the development of sea vessels, maritime exploration and trade, and naval warfare, it’s only fitting that the Hong Kong Maritime Museum overlooks the water. When it first opened in 2005, its initial location was in Murray House in Stanley, but later moved to Central Pier in 2012. If you’re interested in maritime heritage, the Canton Trade, Chinese marine art, and related topics, this is the place to go. One of the museum’s highlights is an early nineteenth-century painted scroll that depicts historical events in Chinese piracy—one of Hong Kong’s most valued historical artefacts.

Hong Kong Maritime Museum, Central Pier 8, Central | (+852) 3713 2500

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Catharina Cheung

Senior editor-at-large

Catharina has recently returned to her hometown of Hong Kong after spending her formative years in Singapore and the UK. She enjoys scouring the city for under-the-radar things to do, see, and eat, and is committed to finding the perfect foundation that will withstand Hong Kong’s heat. She is also an aspiring polyglot, a firm advocate for feminist and LGBTQIA+ issues, and a huge lover of animals. You can find her belting out show-tunes in karaoke, or in bookstores adding new tomes to her ever-growing collection.

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