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Special Article

 

A Review of the Development of the Hong Kong Museum of History in the Past 30 Years (1)

2005

 

"Long as the journey is, we will keep on searching". This was the mission we set in 1995 when we were celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Museum. Time flies and the Museum is now about to provide its 30th year of service. Over the years, the Museum has been committed to collecting, preserving, processing, studying and displaying cultural objects related to Hong Kong and the South China area. In order to enhance public interest in and awareness of the local history and culture, we have been organizing a wide range of education and extension activities. While bearing testimony to the advancement of Hong Kong, the Museum has been continuously enhancing its service to cater for the ever changing needs of the public. To celebrate the Museum's 30th anniversary, we will share with you the changes the Museum has undergone over the years.

Beginning of Museum Services

Museum service in Hong Kong has a history of over a hundred years, dating back to the 1870s when the first "museum" came into existence in the then City Hall, collecting mainly books, pictures as well as plant and animal specimens. However, the service of the museum came to an end in 1947 with the demolition of the old City Hall. It was not until the opening of the Hong Kong City Hall in 1962 that a "City Hall Art Gallery and Museum" made its way to the City Hall's High Block, marking the beginning of modern museum service in Hong Kong. Renamed as the "Hong Kong Art Gallery and Museum" in 1969, the museum was managed by the former Urban Council.
 

Establishment of the Hong Kong Museum of History
To further enhance museum service, the Hong Kong Art Gallery and Museum was split into the Hong Kong Museum of Art and the Hong Kong Museum of History in July 1975. The former continued to occupy the venue in the City Hall for the promotion of art, while the latter was housed in rented office space of about 700m2 at Star House, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon to promote local history and culture through exhibitions. In 1983, the Museum of History moved to Kowloon Park, occupying two old structures of the former Whitfield Barracks, which were converted into temporary offices, gallery and lecture hall. In 1989, exhibition space increased to 1,520m2 with the completion of an extension building.

Construction and Opening of New Museum Premises

With the continuous growth, the Museum of History lacked space and it became necessary for a new premises. In 1995, approval was given for the construction of the permanent museum premises at Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui, next to the Hong Kong Science Museum. Construction works soon commenced. Completed in 1998, the modern museum building has a gloss floor area of 17,500m2, with 8,000m2 reserved for permanent and special exhibition galleries. Other facilities include lecture hall, activity rooms, resource centre, cafe and museum shop, providing a wider range of museum services to the public. It has come under the management of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department since 2000.

 

 

Picture of the High Block of the Hong Kong City Hall in the early 1870s

The High Block of the Hong Kong City Hall in the early 1870s

Picture of the Hong Kong Museum of History at Kowloon Park

The Hong Kong Museum of History at Kowloon Park

Picture of the Hong Kong Museum of History nowadays

The Hong Kong Museum of History nowadays