Edited by Mike Aquino.
The Hong Kong Heritage Museum (HKHM) has received an embarrassment of praise since its opening, and thankfully it's all well deserved.
As the biggest out of Hong Kong’s museums, it features a wide selection of exhibits, many of them interactive. It is also the best place in the territory to soak up some knowledge on Hong Kong’s Cantonese culture and history.
Set in Sha Tin in Hong Kong’s New Territories, the HKHM has plenty of space to spread out, and takes full advantage. The museum complex is actually several buildings designed to look like a traditional si he yuan, or Chinese courtyard house.
Given its distance from Central and Kowloon, visitors might feel tempted to give the HKHM a miss—but they’ll only be missing out.
Hong Kong Heritage Museum’s Exhibits
The spacious interiors of HKHM are divided into 12 exhibition galleries, evenly divided between permanent and temporary exhibits that are designed to present a cohesive historical and cultural narrative for Hong Kong and southern China.
The permanent exhibitions at the HKHM include:
Cantonese Opera Heritage Hall. A series of collections showcasing Cantonese Opera’s costumes, props and stage designs, presented with a selection of multimedia programs that show the massive role that this art form had on shaping local culture.
The HKHM has the world’s biggest collection of Cantonese Opera items, numbering some 30,000 in all!
T. T. Tsui Gallery of Chinese Art. The late real estate mogul T. T. Tsui accumulated a massive collection of Chinese antiques, including pottery, bronzes and silverworks. Over 700 pieces from Mr. Tsui’s collection have found a home at the HKHM, including priceless treasures from the Western Zhou Dynasty and the Shang Dynasty.
Some 30 objects take center stage in the exhibition, divided into four themes: Entertainment, Animals, Belief, and Food and Drink.
Jin Yong Gallery. The Hong Kong writer known as Jin Yong (real name: Dr. Louis Cha) was a Hong Kong journalist and literary icon. His martial arts novels have earned fans throughout the world, and have inspired adaptations in radio, movies, TV, stage, even video games.
The gallery bearing his name houses some 300 exhibits that reveal Jin Yong’s creative process, from photos to manuscripts to priceless early editions of his books.
Chao Shao-an Gallery. The “Lingnan School” of art was born in Guangdong, Southern China—and the artform arguably found full flower in Chao Shao-an’s work, which earns a permanent display here in his namesake gallery.
New Territories Heritage Hall. Time tunnels in this permanent exhibition branch out to explore millions of years of Southern Chinese history—from prehistoric plant fossils to the coastal defenses of olden times to British rule.
Children's Discovery Gallery. Eight learning playzones make up this exhibition, ranging in coverage from nature to archaeology to local lore. The experiences in the Discovery Gallery cater to kids from 4 to 10 years of age—taking them to places as diverse as the Mai Po Marshes and the villages of the New Territories.
The Museum’s Other Exhibitions & Activities
Venture beyond the permanent exhibits mentioned above, and you’ll find other interesting sights and activities in the Museum:
- Orientation Theater: the first stop for any conscientious HKHM visitor; sit here to watch a short documentary that introduces visitors to the culture of Hong Kong, before proceeding to the rest of the place.
- Performance Theater: This performance area seats 350, and hosts performing arts (like the aforementioned Cantonese opera) and cultural talks.
- Six thematic galleries in the HKHM show a rotating course of exhibits. See their official site for details.
Regular tours are held for tourists in the HKHM, but are conducted largely in Cantonese.
How to Get to the Hong Kong Heritage Museum
Despite the considerable distance from Central, getting to Hong Kong Heritage Museum is quite simple. Just take the MTR to Che Kung Temple Station; leave through Exit A then walk to the museum site.
The HKHM is open (on weekdays except Tuesday) from 10am to 6pm; on weekends and public holidays, the museum closes at 7pm instead, except for Christmas Eve and Chinese New Year, when it closes at 5pm. The museum is closed on Tuesdays.
Admission fees cost HKD 20, except for Wednesdays when it’s HKD 10.