December 11, 1999 - January 30, 2000
Other China Pages
Compared to other cities of equal size Hong Kong had been poorly endowed with cultural institutions. Many said then that it was because of the money-making mentality of the people: make your fortune and get out before the roof caves in. A more likely explanation is that it was simply a young city (in 1850 it was still a village of a few houses) and hadn't had time to endow itself. Usually, art collections and museums are given to a city by those who have grown rich with it and that was starting to happen.
Well whatever the reason, since our departure as least four major museums had opened. One was a new Science Museum — it was a long wait for us as our address had been 14 Science Museum Road but there had been no museum to visit then. We went to the new museum but quickly decided that it was oriented towards children and as quickly left.
At the Space Museum we went to a planetarium show and it was pretty good — or so Jan says, since Gerry, as usual, fell asleep as soon as the lights went down. The rest of the museum was small time compared to what we've seen in New York or Paris. But to give some credit, it is much better to have the current museum than to have nothing.
Also new was the HK Museum of History. We went while they had a special exhibit on Johann Strauss and his musical career. We weren't thrilled by it. In fact, we were looking for the history of HK, or at least China. What there was, was very limited. To say this seem like carping, because certainly the history museums of New York or London don't limit themselves to the history of those cities.
What we did like and thought the best of the new museums in the city was the Museum of Art. Situated on the waterfront, adjacent to the Space Museum, it has an attractive site. From inside there are wonderful views of the harbor — it is directly opposite the futuristic HK Convention Center. Inside the exhibits followed the general pattern we had seen in Shanghai and Nanjing, each of which has a very modern museum. In all three there is coverage of the classics of Chinese art: bronzes, porcelain, scroll paintings, and calligraphy. HK ranks third, but an honorable third, behind these two mainland Chinese cities.