Budget Hong Kong: Journey To The Past At The Hong Kong Museum Of History

The Hong Kong Story,” a permanent exhibition at the Hong Kong Museum of History, isn’t your standard collection of artifacts. Chronicling more than 6,000 years of natural and cultural history, the massive exhibition occupies eight galleries across nearly 23,000 square feet, with more than 3,700 static and interactive exhibits. The endeavor took more than six years and HK$200 million (US$25.8 million) to complete. And with admission at just HK$10 (US$1.30) per person, it’s a bargain way to brush up on your Hong Kong history, while beating the oppressive afternoon heat.

%Gallery-174071%The exhibition begins with a look at Hong Kong’s natural environment, examining the landforms, flora and fauna that make the territory unique. A full-scale forest recreation showcases the massive trees that have since been replaced by skyscrapers, along with sound bites from the island’s indigenous birds and animals.

The next gallery displays artifacts from prehistoric Hong Kong, with stone tools and pottery dating back more than 6,000 years. From there, guests are led to the third gallery, on Hong Kong’s majestic early dynasties, which grew with influence from mainland China.

The fourth gallery, on Hong Kong folk culture, highlights the customs of Hong Kong’s four traditional ethnic groups: the Punti, the Hakka, the Boat Dwellers and the Hoklo. A highlight is a full-scale recreation of the Taiping Qingjiao ceremony, complete with a 54-foot “bun mountain,” a Cantonese Opera theatre, a parade, a lion dance and a Taoist altar.

The fifth gallery is a slightly more sobering look at the Opium Wars, which led to the cession of Hong Kong to Great Britain. The causes and consequences of the wars are examined through documentation, timelines and an informative film. From there, guests can explore the growth of Hong Kong as a modern city under British rule, with its teahouses, banks, tailor shops, pawn shops and other urban structures.

The seventh gallery takes a brief look at Hong Kong during the World War II Japanese military occupation. Like in other parts of the Pacific, Hong Kong suffered heavily during the three-year-eight-month period. The propaganda video and audio clips are particularly fascinating.

Finally, visitors are introduced to the development of the modern metropolis of Hong Kong in the years following World War II. The gallery includes reconstructions of a 1960s diner-style herbal tea shop, a modern cinema and exhibits from the Hong Kong trade fair, showcasing the development of Hong Kong’s manufacturing industry. With hundreds of modern artifacts and memorabilia, this exhibition has broad appeal, even for non-history buffs.

The Hong Kong Story closes with a showcase of documents related to Hong Kong’s return to China in 1997 – as well as a reminder on the final placard that the city’s story is far from over.

The Hong Kong Museum of History is located on Chatham Road South in Tsim Sha Tsui. Admission is HK$10 (US$1.30) for adults and HK$5 (US$0.65) for students, seniors and the disabled. On Wednesdays, admission is free.

[Photo Credit: Jessica Marati]

Budget Hong Kong” chronicles one writer’s efforts to authentically experience one of the world’s most expensive cities, while traveling on a shoestring. Read the whole series here.

History Museum Takes Interactive, Social Approach

History museums offer a collection of artifacts and other objects of scientific, artistic, cultural or historical importance, making them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary. For some, history museums are an exciting look at the past with lessons for the future. To others, they are just boring old places full of old stuff. In Denver, the new History Colorado Center opens this weekend in an attempt to change perceptions of the state history museum experience with highly experiential exhibits that put visitors in the stories and make history fun.

Visitors can take a virtual soar off a historic ski jump, “yearbook” themselves in a 1920s hairdo for a small town high school, become a miner who must set the dynamite correctly to explode, and play a trading game swapping goods at a historic trading fort.

Live performances, hands-on projects, lectures and more will also serve to continually keep spaces alive.”The point to all this is that we want to put you in the center of the story – with all the pathos and humor and even the ridiculousness,” said chief operating officer Kathryn Hill to the Victoria Advocate.

The new History Colorado Center looks to be much more than a museum too. As a source of civic connection and a place for statewide interactive dialogue, the Center will bring educational programming to Colorado communities in new ways that promise to increase awareness, heighten interest and broaden participation with History Colorado. Once the transformation is complete, History Colorado will reach people of all ages and backgrounds, in all parts of the state.

The $110 million History Colorado Center opens to the public on Saturday, April 28, 2012.

[Flickr photo by an untrained eye]