Hong Kong Maritime Museum ready for relaunch after facelift at Central pier

City's Maritime Museum ready for relaunch after multimillion-dollar facelift at Central pier

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 February, 2013, 5:23am

The city's Maritime Museum reopens next week at Pier Eight in Central after an eight-month hiatus and a multimillion-dollar overhaul.

The museum, set up by private donors in 2004, moved last June from the ground floor of Murray House in Stanley to its new home - a prime four-deck waterfront location overlooking Victoria Harbour.

After months of construction, the purpose-built space will open on February 26, marking a new chapter in Hong Kong's rich maritime history.

A new exhibit will allow visitors to walk on water, so to speak: the large carpet display is based on an 1841 map of Hong Kong's harbour and includes markings showing all the land reclaimed up to last year.

Another key attraction is a 360-degree digital version of a scroll depicting tales of piracy around Lantau and Cheung Chau islands.

The museum enlisted the help of City University's visual arts department and Kyoto University in Japan to produce the exhibit, which is similar to the popular Shanghai World Expo digital display that brought to life the Song dynasty painting Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival.

Assistant curator Kitty But Yuen-ching said the new museum was designed to appeal to tourists and locals.

Museum staff hope to host at least 100 visitors a day.

"We are five times bigger than in Stanley and we have 15 galleries now, so it's completely different," she said.

"We hope more locals can visit because we noticed that because we were far away in Stanley, the locals were reluctant to come."

With more space, the museum will now display about 2,000 artefacts from its collection of about 5,000.

The galleries cover a range of themes spanning 2,000 years, including early trade routes, maritime communications, navigation systems and piracy.

The museum has interactive touch-screen displays, with one making use of a satellite dish on top of the building by allowing visitors to track vessels as they pass the museum.

One of the museum's most eye-catching displays is the bulls-eye lens from the Waglan Lighthouse, made of crystal glass and steel, on permanent loan from the Museum of History.

Funding for the new museum included HK$130 million from the government and HK$90 million in donations from individuals and shipping companies.

The Town Planning Board approved the museum's move to Central in August 2010 despite some people fearing the loss of public space.

Tickets are HK$30 for adults and HK$15 for children and pensioners. Entry is free for students under 18.

The museum will also have a cafe that will be run by a social enterprise.