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 A full-scale forest recreation showcases the massive trees that have since been replaced by skyscrapers, along with sound bites from the island’s indigenous birds and animals.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.

Video game exhibition coming to the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gamers: put “World of Warcraft” on pause, lay down your controllers, and take note. Beginning on March 16, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC, will open the first major exhibition of video games. The Art of Video Games will show how video games as an artistic medium have evolved over the past 40 years and will feature 80 games, all of which were chosen in a public vote in 2011.

The 80 games on display will be organized according to their game systems, of which there are 20 types, from Atari to to XBox 360, Nintendo Wii, and Sony PlayStation 3. Prepare to be sent into a fit of nostalgia while viewing early favorites, like Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and Donkey Kong (alas, no Frogger). Or, just browse in amazement at how far video graphics have evolved with each iteration of Super Mario. The exhibit features four Super Mario versions: Super Mario Brothers 3, Super Mario World, Super Mario 64, and Super Mario Galaxy 2.

The best part about the The Art of Video Games is that visitors will have a chance to play five of the games. Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, The Secret of Monkey Island, Myst, and Flower will all be featured in the museum arcade, giving anyone the chance to try out these vintage games or rack up a new high score.

The Art of Video Games kicks off with three days of GameFest, a weekend in which visitors can meet video game pioneers, artists, and designers. The exhibition runs from March 16-September 30, 2012, before moving on to the Boca Raton Museum of Art in October.

Image Flickr/zooboing

Gadling TAKE FIVE: Week of May 16–May 22

It’s been a week already since a bulk of Gadling writers descended upon Chicago. Now that Memorial Day weekend is upon us as a kick off to the summer, we’ve been gearing up to give you some tools for the road and ideas of where to head.

  • Sean, our newest Gadling blogger has graced us with a post on Oxford, England’s Pitt Rivers Museum. After it year of remodeling, the museum has reopened. Check out the gallery he’s included and details about the shrunken heads. The post is part of a new series Museum Junkie.
  • For anyone who has traveled with a pet, particularly a canine, finding a hotel that is happy to have Fido can be problematic. Annie’s post on the top five pet friendly budget hotel chains is a handy guide. I can vouch for La Quinta Inns, one of the suggestions. Staying there with our dog this past December was a breeze and it didn’t cost us one dime more.
  • Kraig, an adventurer to the max has been writing posts about his travels to the Amazon. The one on Iquitos, Peru covers what makes this region of the world so spectacular and is a starting off point for finding out what he discovered.
  • If you’re a “where did the film this scene?” kind of person, there’s a map designed just for you. Scott’s post on Where It’s At, a web site focused on pop culture landmarks is interactive. People can add the landmarks they know to help it grow.
  • As part of our budget summer travel series, Brenda suggests a trip to Molokai from Honolulu. It sounds simply fabulous.

Find pop culture in your own backyard with Where It’s At

Ever wondered where they filmed Back To The Future? Or which firehouse the Ghostbusters used as their HQ?

Recently launched Where It’s At is a fantastic collection of pop culture landmarks from the world of TV, music and movies. The map is extremely easy to search, and landmarks are filed into some great categories.

If you know of a pop culture landmark in your own back yard, you can submit it and get credited in the map. Submitting a location takes just a couple of minutes. Of course, the more submissions to the map, the more comprehensive the site will become.

The map is also a great way to plan your very own celebrity tour, and next time you take a trip, you can check to see whether any of the local buildings have a famous history.

Could Shanghai Show Up Beijing?

Beijing was in the world spotlight earlier this year when it hosted the Olympics. In 2010, it will be Shanghai‘s turn when it houses the World Expo. Despite not enjoying the media attention of the Olympics or FIFA World Cup, World Expos, a.k.a. World’s Fairs, have been held for over 100 years and hold a certain degree of cultural clout. Contingents of many nations come to showcase their industry and culture to the world. Chicago and London were both famous hosts of early World’s Fairs. Zaragoza, Spain had the 2008 version, which wrapped up last month after a 60 day run.

Shanghai is set for a bit more spotlight than Zaragoza, though. The ’10 World Expo will run for six months (May-October) and is expected to draw the largest number of visitors of any such event in history. They’ll have to beat 50 million attendees, the number set by Montreal in 1967.

But it isn’t about the numbers, really. Beijing got its chance in the spotlight with the Olympics. But Shanghai is China’s largest, most modern and wealthiest city. It is well on its way to regaining some of the glory it had as East Asia’s cultural heart in the 1920s. Many people consider Shanghai the only truly modern metropolis in the PRC. Its buildings, culture and economic power back up that hypothesis; as do features like a glut of modern architecture and one of the world’s largest subways. While the cameras won’t be trained on Shanghai for the entire 6 months, the city will have a chance to show that it is, in many ways, the face of modern China.