5 Hong Kong museums that will keep you wide awake
Not just a dream: Noah’s Ark
It’s one of those structures you pass by everytime you visit the airport, but somehow manage to overlook. Right underneath the Tsing Ma Bridge stands the world’s only full-size replica of the Noah’s Ark at an astounding 135 meters wide and 13.5 meters tall. Open last year, the wooden replica surrounded by giant animal statues is the achievement of the Kwok brothers, the Christian billionaires from property developer Sun Hing Kai Properties.
Essentially, it's a creation museum that retells the story of Noah’s Ark in an oddly high-tech way. The floor shakes at various moments as Chinese actors retell the story in a video. Issues such as climate change and endangered species are addressed through multimedia presentations plus a 4D theater on various environmental issues in the context of Noah’s Ark.
Noah's Ark also functions as a family resort with accommodations, a restaurant and function rooms equipped for parties and weddings. Christian or not, it's definitely worth a visit just for its oddly entertaining vibe.
All about disease: Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences
What started out as Hong Kong's first Centre for Health Protection in 1906 has turned into one of the world's first museums to compare Chinese and Western medicine. From X-rays of bound feet to porcelain autopsy tables to displays on the SARS outbreak, the three-story Edwardian-style building does a pretty good job of showcasing Hong Kong's medical developments. Thematic seminars and student programs add an educational value. And finally, if fascination turns to gross-out, head over to the Herb Garden for a breath of fresh air.
175 Tung Hei Road, Shau Kei Wan, Hong Kong; tel. +852 2569 1500; www.hkmms.org.hk. Admission: HK$10 for adults, HK$5 with concession
Guns with ocean views: Museum of Coastal Defense
Built in 1887, the Museum of Coastal Defense gets its military significance from once being a major British fortification against Russian and French invasion. The former Lei Yue Mun Fort is one of Hong Kong’s best preserved. The museum’s heritage trail retains ammunition stores, batteries, a gunpowder factory and torpedo station. In the Lei Yue Mun Redoubt’s permanent exhibition, wander through 600 years of coastal defense from the Japanese invasion with 400 artifacts on display. And they’re actually interesting: naval costumes, war junk models, photos and memorabilia.
Sitting atop a hill in Shau Kei Wan, the sea views are also spectacular from lookout points that surround overgrown ruins.
175 Tung Hei Road, Shau Kei Wan, Hong Kong; tel. +852 2569 1500; hk.coastaldefence.museum. Admission: HK$10 for adults, HK$5 with concession
Chinese treasure box: Hong Kong Museum of Art
If 15,000 art objects can’t stimulate your aesthetic juices, you’ll be hard-pressed to find another museum in Hong Kong that will. With Chinese heritage as the theme, collections range from antiques, calligraphy, tea ware to paintings by Hong Kong and Mainland artists. Probably the most fascinating are the pottery, furniture and ivory or jade pieces inside the Chinese Antiquities Section that date as far back as the Neolithic period.
Situated on the waterfront in Tsim Sha Tsui, the Hong Kong Art Museum is also an iconic building that provides stunning views of the harbor, particularly at night.
10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong; tel. +852 2721 0116; www.lcsd.gov.hk/ce/Museum/Arts. Admission: HK$10 for adults, HK$5 with concession
Interactive blast to the past: Hong Kong Museum of History
Rather than spending hours struggling to stay awake in front of a textbook, get 400 million years of history covered through a tour of the Hong Kong Museum of History in four hours. Starting from the Devonian period to the 1997 handover, the museum presents a comprehensive review of Hong Kong’s natural environment, folk culture and historical evolution. How did Hong Kong become the cosmopolitan city it is today? What was life like before it became an international financial hub? Discover all of this through artifacts and mock-up scenes on display.
Showcasing farms, clothes and vehicles of the time, the Cheung Chau Bun Festival and section about Hong Kong’s main settlers are especially popular among kids. Guided tours, audio aids and theater shows also make learning more interactive. And for those with particular interests, look out for special exhibitions like the transformation of qipao from the 1920s to 1960s.
100 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong; tel. +852 2724 9042; hk.history.museum. Admission: HK$10 for adults, HK$ with concession