Museum of Coastal Defence's lacklustre tribute to the end of the Second World War

Museum of Coastal Defence's lacklustre tribute to the end of the Second World War

Museum of Coastal Defence marks anniversary of the end of the second world war with a special exhibition. But YP cadet Dennis Lui found the result leaves history lovers wanting more

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The permanent exhibition offered a much more interesting experience.
The permanent exhibition offered a much more interesting experience.
Photo: YP cadet Joshua Lee

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Boards packed with facts help visitors learn about the key events of the second world war.
Boards packed with facts help visitors learn about the key events of the second world war.
Photo: YP cadet Joshua Lee

If the idea of spending a summer's day in a small room surrounded by dusty historical artefacts appeals, the new exhibition at the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence might be the place for you. If not, you probably won't be missing out on much.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Second World War, so the centre has teamed up with the Guangdong Museum of Revolutionary History to launch a special exhibition.

The 65 artefacts and photos on display mark the historical milestones by focusing on the conflict's events relevant to Guangdong and Hong Kong.

For a start, the exhibition is rather difficult to find.

It is tucked away at the far end of the museum, where it's dimly-lit and nearly hidden from the wandering visitor.

Perseverance is not quite rewarded, either. The entire exhibition takes only about 15 minutes to walk through. And that's if you pay attention and take time to read all of the information provided.

Plenty of people walk in, only to leave after spending a short time checking out the exhibits.

Although there aren't too many artefacts, there are a few interesting and eye-catching ones.


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In the main display is a Japanese soldier's uniform typical of the period. Olive green with a scarlet collar, it stands firm and stern - testament to the Imperial army's ferocity and discipline.

Next to the uniform is an Imperial flag of Japan that bears the names of many Chinese provinces; a reminder of the devastation the war brought to the countries involved.

A large map from the era helps track where all the battles and major events happened. Streets, highways, towns and buildings are meticulously drawn, with allied and enemy positions represented by different symbols.

Dennis studies a map of Guangdong that dates back to the 1940s.
Photo: YP cadet Joshua Lee

 

Apart from the highlights, there is little else of interest. In particular, there's a distinct lack of rifles or other sorts of weaponry on display.

Videos and music could have provided some entertainment for visitors and offered more of an immersive audio-visual experience.

It feels as though the room is more of an extension to a larger, more impressive exhibition, rather than a standalone offering that sufficiently explores what is a complicated period in history.

Elsewhere in the museum, there is another permanent, more general collection that has all the objects that you would expect, including weaponry, land mines, flags, gas masks, and medals.

The lights are dimmed to give gravitas to the artefacts on display and a documentary offers a vivid visual perspective.

A mother visiting the special exhibition, who declined to be named, said: "It is good how they're trying to show the younger generation how the resistance war was fought.

"However, it would be nicer if they had more artefacts on show."

All in all, the exhibition is badly placed within the museum and also suffers from some weak displays.

It could have been an extension to one of the better, more permanent exhibits. But by itself, it is lacklustre and dull.

Fighting as One: Reminders of the Eight Years' War of Resistance in Guangdong and Hong Kong will run at the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence until November 11

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
HK's lacklustre tribute

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