We’ve all been to the History and Science Museums dozens of times, and by now, you’re no doubt sick to death of them. But there are a lot of smaller, more specialised museums that are worth visiting. Better yet, all of them are free!
There's probably not enough at each one to keep you there all day, but a mini museum tour could be just the thing for you to escape the summer heat for a bit:
Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre
Hidden in the middle of Kowloon Park, the Heritage Discovery Centre probably isn’t for everyone, but if you are into historical architecture, you will love it. The museum offers a short chronological walk through the history of Hong Kong’s historical monuments and architecture for the past hundred years.
Highlights include hundreds of ancient artefacts from archaeological digs across Hong Kong, or miniature models of Hong Kong’s old colonial buildings. It’s not a large museum by any measure, but it’s great if you want a quick summary of Hong Kong’s architectural heritage in less than an afternoon.
Flagstaff House Museum of Tea ware
Flagstaff House is the oldest colonial building in Hong Kong, with a history spanning 170 years. It now holds a large collection of Chinese tea ware and other paraphernalia.
The museum features displays and exhibitions showing the evolution of Chinese tea-drinking and the obsession with tea throughout different periods of time, with some artefacts dating back to the 11th century. If you’re not a massive tea lover, this museum might bore you a little. But if you’re looking for a more hands-on or interactive approach to tea, you might enjoy the regular tea appreciation classes and demonstrations (these are free, but advanced reservation is required).
While not exactly a history museum, Oi! is an art gallery located inside the former the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club in North Point. It’s a small space, but crammed into the building are several exhibition spaces for artists to display their works. The exhibitions change regularly and often feature works from local artists. Some works are very experimental and won’t be to everyone’s liking, but at the very least they will get you talking about art. Art enthusiasts will definitely find the art programmes and exhibitions worth having a look at.
Hong Kong Railway Museum
The former Tai Po Market Railway Station dates back to the 1913 and was the bustling railway hub for the nearby Fu Shin Street Market for more than 70 years. The station building now houses a small exhibition area, which you should take a look at if you have time.
But the main attraction in the museum is outdoors, where historical passenger carriages have been opened to the public. Be sure to step inside and walk around the six carriages that have been put on display, and spend some time sitting in the original seats to experience how people travelled around Hong Kong before the MTR.
Sam Tung Uk Museum
Living in such an urbanised city makes it easy to forget Hong Kong’s rural past. The Sam Tung Uk Museum is a 230-year old walled village that lets you experience the agricultural life of the Hakka people that is fading away. The exhibition features a dozen houses with traditional furniture, agricultural tools and everyday objects on display. The museum is very close to Tsuen Wan MTR station and is worth a visit if you’re in the area.
Sir Alexander Grantham Exhibition
The Sir Alexander Grantham was a fireboat first launched in 1953, it conducted rescue operations in Hong Kong waters for 49 years before it was decommissioned. The boat was then brought ashore and converted into a museum. Seeing the boat itself just standing on dry land is fascinating in itself, but the museum also features firefighting memorabilia and other information on the history of firefighting in Hong Kong.
After walking through the small exhibition gallery, you get to climb aboard the deck of the ship and take a closer look at life on board. The exhibition is outdoors so give this a miss if the weather is terrible.