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Best museums in Hong Kong

The best Hong Kong museums to take in art, history and culture

Tai Kwun exterior
Photograph: Calvin Sit
By Time Out Hong Kong |
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A city that's steeped in history and culture, Hong Kong is awash with wonderful museums that document the city's fascinating past and cultural heritage. 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 14 museums in Hong Kong.

RECOMMENDED: Once you've ticked off all these museums, how about visiting some of the best art galleries in Hong Kong for some art inspiration.  

The best Hong Kong museums

Museums, History

Hong Kong Museum of History

Tsim Sha Tsui East

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. And admission is free! Plus, since it's located next to the Hong Kong Science Museum, you can also fit two museum trips into one day. Win.

Note: In light of the recent situation, crowd control measures are being implemented in the museum. Visits will be limited to two hours, and admission slips will be handed out by 10am, 12pm, and 2.30pm.

Museums, History

Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware

Admiralty

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. 

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Museums

Hong Kong Heritage Museum

Sha Tin

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.

Note: In light of the recent situation, crowd control measures are being implemented in the museum. Visits will be limited to two hours, and admission slips will be handed out by 10am, 12pm, and 2.30pm.

Museums, Science and technology

Hong Kong Space Museum

Tsim Sha Tsui

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 the Cosmos and the Hall of Space Exploration. 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.  

Note: The egg-shaped Space Theatre has been temporarily closed for refurbishment and is scheduled to reopen in 2021. However, the exhibition halls remain open, catch the special exhibition in the foyer about the astronomical events happening in 2020, which is runs until September free of charge.

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Art

Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Art

Central

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.

Attractions

University Museum and Art Gallery

Pok Fu Lam

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.

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HKMoA Building 2020, museum of art
Photograph: Courtesy HKMoA
Museums

Hong Kong Museum of Art

Tsim Sha Tsui

Established in 1962, HKMoA is the first public art museum in the city. The museum houses an art collection of over 17,000 items, representing the unique cultural legacy of Hong Kong's links across the globe. The museum curates works on a broader scope and contrast, from old to new, Chinese to Western, local to international, all with a Hong Kong viewpoint in hopes to make the showcase appeal to everyone. 

Note: In light of the recent situation, crowd control measures are being implemented in the museum. Visits will be limited to two hours, and admission slips will be handed out by 10am, 12pm, and 2.30pm.

Museums, Science and technology

Hong Kong Science Museum

Tsim Sha Tsui East

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. 

Note: The museum is temporarily closed until further notice. Visit the museum's official site for updates. 

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Museums, Science and technology

Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum

Mid-Levels

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. Admission is free, so schedule a visit next time you're in the area. 

Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

Heritage of Mei Ho House

Sham Shui Po

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.

Note: The museum is temporarily closed until further notice. Visit the museum's official Facebook page for updates. 

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Sheung Yiu Village
Photo by Wing Ho Tsang
Museums, History

Sheung Yiu Folk Museum

Sai Kung

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.

Museums

Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence

Shau Kei Wan

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. 

Note: Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence is currently closed for renovation, visit their official website for updates. 

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Museums, History

Hong Kong Railway Museum

Tai Po

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. 

Museums, History

Museum of Macau

Macau

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

Discover a plethora of incredible art

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