Hong Kong Museum of History

A short taxi ride or an inconvenient longish-walk 20 minute urban from Tsim Tsa Tsui subway station, the Hong Kong Museum of History is a gem. A very nice mix of information and entertaining education, the museum makes for an interesting afternoon for the family. Kids between ages 8-14 will probably enjoy it most, while older kids with an interest in history will really enjoy it. Can't do much about bored teens in any case.

No Lions, But Tigers and Bears

When the museum says it covers the history of Hong Kong, they are not kidding, as the exhibits begin with geological stuff and include vistas of flat swamps and rocks. Things progress quickly to a huge airplane-hanger sized room with full-size reproductions of the various wildlife that used to inhabit Hong Kong, including tigers and black bears. The animals are tucked away inside a real fake forest and are fun for young kids to try and spot.

Farm Life

A good third of the museum is devoted to folk life, the culture and life of the people who lived here long before anyone heard of colonization or opium. This part of the museum is well-suited for even the youngest kids, as it includes several full-size homes and workshops which the kids are free to run in and out of exploring. One “home” is aboard a fishing ship you can board, with fake water and a background to rival that Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Be sure to check out the slightly scary giant Chinese opera statues and the cool puppets. Our kids especially enjoyed seeing how kids lived back then in history, especially the sleeping lofts in the old homes. Be sure to point out the absence of indoor plumbing.

Some History Please, We're British

Another good third of the museum is devoted to Hong Kong's pivotal British colonial period. This is portrayed with an awesome full-size harbor and street scene you can climb in, on and over. Look through the cargo on the wharf, then step onto the gangplank of the steamer docked there; the floor even vibrates with the engine hum. Enter the narrow streets and explore a period tea shop, medicine store and other shops. Be sure to go upstairs in the tea shop for more exhibits (it is not well marked) and a view of the harbor from the balcony. The kids can run around through here, and there is a real sense of exploration and discovery. While the British built most of modern Hong Kong, some nasty things happened as well, and the text of the exhibits clearly shows the mixed feelings many have toward this period of Hong Kong's history.

Japanese Occupation

There are no mixed feeling toward the exhibits devoted to WWII's Japanese Occupation of Hong Kong; you enter the exhibit through a tunnel as bomb noises fill the air and the lights overhead dim and flutter. Not a happy time.

Post-War Cheerfulness

Things cheer up quickly in the immediate post war, with some neat exhibits on Hong Kong's economic growth. Check out the retro-cool film clips from movies of the 1960's and forward with Hong Kong themes, and the display of all sorts of “Made in Hong Kong” toys and junk we remember from our own childhoods. A series of exhibits cataloging a long string of natural disasters that befell Hong Kong kind of drip in a downer element before the big happy finish with a made in the Mainland film celebrating reunification with China. It has more than its share of propaganda images in it, interesting to spark discussion of such things with older kids and harmless enough for younger ones.

Conclusion

Overall, a great museum and a two or three hour way to learn that there is a lot more to Hong Kong than shopping and good food. Decent souvenirs and post cards in the book store on the way out, also.

User Feedback

Before the Hong Kong International Airport was built, what was the main airport where international flights landed, and specifically where was that airport located?

Phil Doran

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