A city that’s steeped in history and rich in culture, Hong Kong is awash with wonderful museums that document the city’s fascinating past and cultural heritage – take a walk through the Hong Kong Heritage Museum or Hong Kong Museum of History for a taste of that. However, the city is also home to an array of institutions that specialise in a world of other subjects including art, coastal defence and even tea-drinking. So for those looking for a cultural fix and struggling to know where to start, here’s our selection of the top 15 museums in Hong Kong.
RECOMMENDED: Once you’ve ticked off all these museums, there’s still tons more incredible things to do in Hong Kong and attractions to explore. For something a little more different, how about checking out some of the quirkiest and most unusual things to do in Hong Kong?
The best Hong Kong museums
There's a vast 400 million years worth of history that gets explored here (although luckily it won't take you as long as that to walk around). Not only is the museum completely bursting with exhibits, including ones on prehistoric Hong Kong, the Opium Wars, the Japanese occupation and local folk culture, but there are also incredible artefacts that you won't find anywhere else. Plus, since it's located next to the Hong Kong Science Museum, you can fit two museum trips into one day. Win.
The largest museum in the city, the Hong Kong Heritage Museum is also unique in its location situated beside the Shing Mun River. Specialising in history, art and culture such as Cantonese Opera and traditional Chinese art, the Sha Tin museum houses an array of permanent exhibition galleries including an old toy display. There are also regular themed exhibitions ranging from Pixar to contemporary posters. Until 2020, there's also a kickass Bruce Lee exhibition here complete with tons of memorabilia.
It’s hard to miss this egg-shaped dome on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront. The theatre dome makes up half of the Hong Kong Space Museum, along with the Hall of Space Science and the Hall of Astronomy. Visitors can enjoy documentary screenings under the curved ceiling of the planetarium. Head over to the main museum and discover plenty of action and gadgetry for space and science enthusiasts.
More than just a museum, Tai Kwun is one of Hong Kong’s biggest conservation projects to date and arguably the best art space in the city right now. Aside from its regular, world-class contemporary art exhibitions and theatre performances, as well as some excellent bars and restaurants, Tai Kwun is a unique heritage site where visitors can stroll through the former Central Police Station, Central Magistracy and Victoria Prison and see well-preserved historic architecture up close. Inside, you can learn more about the role of law and order in Hong Kong and the site’s rich history.
The oldest museum in Hong Kong, University Museum and Art Gallery was first established in 1953 and houses an impressive collection of Chinese antiquities, ceramics, traditional oil paintings and wood and jade carvings. Dating from the Neolithic period to the Qing dynasty, notable highlights at the museum include an early blue-and-white water pot and the world's largest collection of Nestorian plaques. Also don’t miss an increasing number of historical photographs of Hong Kong and items of popular culture.
Established in 1962 as part of City Hall, the Hong Kong Museum of Art now houses over 16,000 artworks in its pink-tiled, multipurpose space. As well as boasting one of the largest collections of Hong Kong art in the city, the museum is packed with Chinese paintings, calligraphy works and antiques. They also regularly host themed exhibitions, which attract reputable names from overseas, while also promoting the work of local artists. For a break from art and culture, head right next door to the Hong Kong Space Museum for an adventure that's worlds away. Note: The museum is closed for refurbishment until November 2019.
This exciting institution hosts interactive science demos that includes topics such as molecular gastronomy and robotics on top of its permanent exhibits. Highlights at the museum include the world of mirrors, a food science area and the 22-metre-high ‘energy machine’ that produces awesome audio-visual effects as it demonstrates various forms of energy. It’s electrifyingly fun.
Dr Sun Yat-sen devoted his life to establishing the Republic of China. He had ties with Hong Kong, having received his education and devised plans for revolution here. The museum details his life and Hong Kong’s place in the founding of modern China.
Flagstaff House, located in Hong Kong Park, was built in the 1840s and was formerly the office and residence of the commander of the British Forces in Hong Kong. It became the Museum of Tea Ware in 1984 and houses exhibitions, demonstrations, tea gatherings and lectures that promote China’s tea-drinking culture.
The only surviving remnant of Hong Kong’s oldest public housing project and the recipient of a Unesco honorable mention, Mei Ho House is a vital piece of local history and architecture built after a fire in 1954 left 58,000 homeless. Nowadays, in addition to being a functioning youth hostel, Mei Ho House is also a museum dedicated to the history of public housing in the area. The estate’s single-floor wet market is one of Hong Kong’s most authentic and is well worth a gander before plans to redevelop it gain traction.
Explore Sheung Yiu Village, a former fortified Hakka settlement that’s now a cultural and historic monument, filled with galleries and rich in local history. Known for its lime kiln that brought wealth to its inhabitants, this monument offers insight into the daily life of a Hakka villager’s rural lifestyle. If that’s not enough to justify the journey to the area, take in scenery at the surrounding Sai Kung Country Park.
Calling the 100-year-old former Lei Yue Mun Fort home, this site played an important role during the Battle of Hong Kong in 1941. Nowadays, the fort boasts 600 years of history on Hong Kong’s coastal defenses and there’s cool stuff like tanks and military vehicles on display to keep military nuts entertained.
This dinky museum is in the declared monument that used to be the Tai Po railway station and exhibits artefacts from Hong Kong’s long rail history. There’s also a full-size model of an electric train compartment at the museum, as well as railway tracks to explore.
Unlike traditional museums, Trick Eye claims to be Hong Kong’s first AR museum that offers unique 3D-immersion experience that is packed with optical illusions, inviting visitors to take pictures that play tricks on the mind. There are five themed areas inside the attraction, including a secret garden, Hong Kong icons and art masterpieces. It's also free entry to any Hong Kong residents on their birthday. Trick Eye is currently closed for renovations until further notice.
Okay, this one’s the other side of the Pearl River Delta, but it’s a cracker that details the history of our sister SAR and, located in Mount Fortress, it’s conveniently close to the ruins of St Paul’s, allowing you to tick off two tourist attractions at once. The museum is the perfect place to educate yourself on Macanese history and culture. $15