Emporiums of curiosities

Emporiums of curiosities

From rare toys to mock prison cells, some lesser-known museums have it all


Small local museums offer a wide range of exhibits from old tombs to creepy old prison cells.
Small local museums offer a wide range of exhibits from old tombs to creepy old prison cells.
Photo: Martin Chan/SCMP
We all know the Heritage Museum in Sha Tin, the Science Museum in Tsim Sha Tsui, and Madame Tussauds on the Peak. They are must-sees, yes, but hardly the only games in town. Here are some lesser-known museums with delightful curios well worth investigating.

Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum

Fans of Prison Break don't need to wait till the Victoria Prison on Hollywood Road opens its squeaky doors again.

Try this museum of creepy gallows and prison cells, a 10-minute walk from Stanley Market. The mock jail is complete with a hangman's noose and a stylised guard tower. It offers an intriguing glimpse at life behind bars 160 years ago.

The museum explains how our penal system evolved over time.

45 Tung Tau Wan Rd, Stanley
(Open daily except Mondays, 10am-5pm)

International Hobby and Toy Museum

This museum offers a magnificently cluttered time-tunnel of old playthings. Its 1,000-item collection includes toy cars, soft dolls, cartoon figurines and sci-fi collectibles.

One of the oldest toys on display is a toy model Duesenberg automobile. It was made in the US in the 1920s and may seem ancient to most of us.

Also on show is a large collection of Japanese Gundam robots.

330 Shanghai Street, Yau Ma Tei
(Open daily except Tuesdays, 2pm-7pm)

Wing Wah Tasting Hong Kong

Photo: Wing Wah Tasting Hong Kong

On display is a real banquet of dishes ... in plastic models.

They are from among the delicacies that have made our city a foodie's paradise: New Year puddings, put chai ko, and rice dumplings.

With 60 years of history, Hong Kong-based restaurant and food manufacturer Wing Wah celebrates the culture of food in this museum.

A guide takes you through the history of the local specialities and rituals performed during festivals.

You can also sign up for one of many pastry-making workshops and recreate Wing Wah's famous "wife" cake and phoenix roll.

The museum is closing next month. So hurry up!

Basement, 478 Nathan Rd., Yau Ma Tei
(Open daily, 9am-7pm)

Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb Museum

Photo: Ricky Chung/SCMP

This 2,000-year-old tomb - the city's oldest - is a must-go for fans of the macabre.

Dating back to the Han Dynasty, the four-chambered vault is built from bricks. It looks straight out of a Tomb Raider movie. The tomb was discovered nearly intact in 1955 and was declared a gazetted monument in 1988.

The rear chamber, now empty, is believed to have once kept the coffin of the tomb's owner. The other chambers were used for storing pottery and bronze wares.

Historians say mourners once performed rituals for the dead under the domed roof in the centre.

41 Tonkin Street, Sham Shui Po
(Open daily except Thursdays, 10am-6pm. Public holidays: 1pm-6pm)

Electric Fan Museum

Every household today owns at least one electrical fan.

Yet these machines were a luxury once - especially those imported from the US, Britain and Germany. Then half a century ago they began to be mass produced.

One-time petrol seller Chung Hon-ping knows his fans well.

The collector has amassed vintage fan models made in China between 1890 and 1954. Some of these elegant antiques cost him up to HK$16,000.

You need to make a booking to visit his tiny gallery. Chung is a gracious host and will tell you stories about his 400-strong collection, half of which are on display.

168A Kung Ngam Village Road, Shau Kei Wan
(Open on Sundays, 10am-6pm
Call 9333 8881 for reservations)



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