Maritime museum opens in new home at Pier 8, Central

With bigger space in Central it aims to draw 500 visitors a day to its ‘decks’

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2013, 4:34am

Hong Kong's sea history from piracy to shipbuilding goes on display today in a new waterfront home five times the size of its former premises and with twice the number of exhibits.

The Maritime Museum aims to attract at least 500 visitors a day to its premises at Pier 8 in Central where about 2,000 items are on show in 4,400 square metres on four floors, dubbed "decks".

"It's a much bigger canvas to show Hong Kong's maritime history," museum director Richard Wesley said, comparing it to the previous 700 square metre home at Murray House in Stanley.

He was speaking during a media tour of the museum.

With a more easily accessible location and more space, the museum expects more visitors than at Murray House, where it received 2,000 to 3,000 a month.

The objects are organised in 15 galleries differentiated by subject, including traditional maritime China, sea bandits, and Hong Kong shipyards.

The pier site has been leased from the government for 10 years, and the museum, which spent HK$130 million converting the pier, is hopeful that it will be able to renew the lease after that.

The additional 1,000 exhibits are mostly new acquisitions, bought with the help of HK$90 million in private donations that also went towards creating an endowment.

The move from Stanley took six weeks, with specialists brought in to move the exhibits.

Among the new displays is an interactive digital scan of a Qing dynasty painted silk scroll titled Pacifying the South China Sea and depicting the Battle of Lantau in which General Bailing fought off Hong Kong's most famous pirate, Cheung Po-tsai. The scroll itself was previously on display at Murray House.

The museum joined with City University to digitally scan the 18-metre work for the display, which allows visitors to see a blown-up version of the scroll and read in greater detail the story on it.

A carpet in the museum shows a map of Victoria Harbour and the areas that have since been reclaimed.