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Special to the Filipino Reporter

(All photos by Wendell Gaa)

 

HONG KONG — There is so much about this international metropolis that excites, intimidates, bewilders and fascinates a first-time visitor all at the same time.

A prime center for some of the world’s most important financial institutions, this city has a colorful history that should not be overlooked.

One place that presents a fantastic introduction to this high-adrenaline city is the Hong Kong Museum of History.

Opened in 1975, this museum, located within the Kowloon district, captures the soul and essence of the historical and cultural identity of Hong Kong.

Curators have labored hard to display the heritage of Hong Kong in all its richness, and it truly shows here.

The museum covers a space of 7,000 square-meters, with eight galleries showing off over 3,700 exhibits with the use of 750 graphic panels, several multimedia programs, as well as special audio-visual and lighting effects.

Each gallery presents an enlightening chapter of Hong Kong’s long history, from the geological origins of the natural environment of prehistoric Hong Kong; to the great Chinese dynasties which held sway over the people in the region during the Han and Qing periods; to the modern development of Hong Kong into what it is today as a hub for global business.

 

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The museum brilliantly chronicles the historic ties between the Chinese inhabitants of Hong Kong and their British colonial hosts.

The history of the Opium Wars is also exhibited, as well as the origins and causes behind this 19th-century conflict between China and Britain over the opium trade that ultimately led to the opening of China to the world.

Visitors will further understand how Hong Kong has played a pivotal role in history by being a key port of trade and commerce between Asia and Europe, thereby linking the two continents in close political and economic cooperation, and how this became the catalyst for Hong Kong’s ascension into a booming city-state.

Cantonese Chinese culture is another of the museum’s highlights, and this is evident through such model displays as life-size wax figures of Cantonese opera performers, dancing dragon costumes, and giant radiantly-colored effigies of Chinese gods.

Model setups of typical Cantonese teahouses, post offices, banks and merchant stores from the 19th to 20th centuries can also be viewed, all set up to appear just exactly as they would have in the days of old.

Arguably, the best of what Southern Chinese heritage can offer could be viewed right here.

Of noteworthy value is the gallery depicting the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong during the Second World War (1941-1945).

Guests will no doubt feel the fear, tension and intense agony which military and civilian residents in Hong Kong were forced to endure at the hands of the Japanese invaders.

This gallery will help visitors understand Hong Kong’s role in the War, and how victory here was vital for the Allied campaign in the Pacific Theater of Operations.

The museum’s final gallery documents the epic rise of Hong Kong into the modern metropolis it is today.

Model exhibits of barber parlors, urban tea shops, children’s schools, even movie cinemas and local toy collections and Chinese comic books that were popular in the 1960s are all open for visitors to see and enjoy.

Perhaps the gallery’s most inspirational attraction is the film presentation on the historical relationship between Hong Kong, China and Britain, where an actual footage of the 1997 Handover Ceremony of Hong Kong from Britain to China is shown.

This so beautifully sums up what Hong Kong was in the past, what it is today, and which optimistic future direction it intends to follow well into the 21st century.

 

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