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B Deck 
Hong Kong's Port Stories

K H & K W Koo Gallery -
Creating Victoria Harbour


The K H & K W Koo Gallery celebrates Hong Kong’s development as a port from 1841 until just after the ending of the Japanese occupation and reoccupation by the British in 1945.

The gallery begins with a description of Hong Kong as it was when the British acquired the territory in 1841.  Though there were just a few fishing and farming villages and a small population of 3,000 to 4,000, it boasted one of the best natural harbours in the region. Soon the foreshore bristled with jetties, office buildings and godowns, and a burgeoning population of merchants laid the foundation for modern Hong Kong. By the 1880s Hong Kong was the most advanced port in China.

The gallery contains a history of ships, recounting how western ships moved from sail to steam, while the Chinese coastal junk endured. The waning and waxing of Hong Kong's population are described as well as the territory's tribulations during the Second World War and its post-war revival. 

The gallery is sponsored by Tai Chong Cheang Steamship Co. (H.K.) Ltd. in honour of the company's founders, Mr. K H Koo & K W Koo.

TC Chan Gallery .JPG

Hong Kong Ships and Shipyards


The first section of the gallery documents the growth and success of Hong Kong`s port, emphasizing how appropriate it is for the Hong Kong Maritime Museum to be on the waterfront. 

The central theme is the port`s working life and how it developed from 1841.  In common with other busy ports, Hong Kong was highly labour intensive, providing employment for workers in almost every aspect of the maritime industry ranging from dockers, tugmen, lightermen and salvors to shipping office and tally clerks, in a frenetic world of comings and goings, heat and noise. 

As well as images, models recreate the layout of the port, and artefacts – such as the anchor from the Jahre Viking/Seawise Giant and a diesel engine the size of a house – show the sheer scale of the ships that used it. An interactive display provides a glimpse of what parts of the Hong Kong Harbour looked like in previous eras and there are accounts of what happened to ships at the end of their life (some were turned into blocks of flats to create homes in 1960s and 1970s Hong Kong) and of Hong Kong's own shipbuilding industry which built classic yachts, launches, ferries and large freighters.

Hong Kong Ships and Shipyards .JPG

Making of a Modern Port


This second section of the gallery describes the modernization of Hong Kong`s port in the last 60 years, when changes in China's political focus turned it into the core hub of the region and modernization in the shipping industry triggered huge expansion.

Hong Kong emerged from the Second World War into a much-altered world.  With the declaration of the People`s Republic of China and the closing of Chinese ports to trade, Hong Kong became the focal hub for trade in South East Asia.   There were also huge changes occurring in the shipping industry itself, spearheaded by both the container revolution and the changes in ship design and size.  The old world of manpower and open pallets of cargo gave way to a world of containers and cranes.  The port expanded enormously onto specially reclaimed land in order to accommodate ever bigger and more specialized ships, finally becoming a superhub for the region. 

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Hongkong International Terminals Gallery -
Harbour Viewing Gallery

This gallery presents the museum’s dynamic real time display: Victoria Harbour Live.

Hong Kong, the vibrant, bustling harbour that is so prominent today, has a behind-the-scenes story of evolution that visitors will be able to experience through specially fitted binoculars. Go back in time to 1846, for example, to the spot on HMS Iris where Lieutenant Heath stood to draw the panorama of Hong Kong or to 1841, when the harbour was 50 per cent bigger than it is today.

Now enormous container ships move in and out of Kwai-Tsing to the West of the harbour and Hong Kong’s new cruise terminal is taking shape in the East.  In between these points, the life of the harbour goes on, with ferries, river trade cargo vessels, tugs, lighters, warships, police and fire vessels, customs officers, immigration and other government officials all criss-crossing from shore to shore.  Every minute another vessel heaves into sight.  Real time radar shows an even wider view and a video screen captures the Mondrianesque montage of coloured boxes in Kwai-Tsing.

The gallery is sponsored by Hongkong International Terminals.


Sir Yue-Kong Pao Wing -
Carrying People

This first section of the Parakou Gallery relates to moving people rather than cargoes. 

The plight of South China's distressed emigrants who endured long sea passages, squashed with their few belongings on crowded open decks or in steerage berths, is graphically illustrated in this gallery. In contrast, there are exhibits describing the great age of luxury passenger liners, complete with luxurious staterooms and designer luggage.

Ferries are a vital mode of transport in Hong Kong and their history is described from the days of the early ferry crossings to Macau or Guangzhou, to today's flight across the sea surface in jet powered ‘surface effect’ vessels.  It is worth pondering over the amazing statistic that in Hong Kong, there is one passenger travelling per second, every second of the day. 

The gallery is sponsored by Y K Pao Family to honour  Sir Yue-Kong Pao.

carrying people .JPG

Sir Yue-Kong Pao Wing -

Life, Faith and Fun on the Water

The second section of the Parakou Gallery focuses on water sports around Hong Kong and fun: fun on the water, fun in the water and under it.

The owners and users of pleasure vessels around Hong Kong range from expensive yacht clubs to government and NGO-run water sports centres.  Their vessels include yachts, flower boats and pleasure junks. The Phantom, one of the Huangpu-built yachts that pioneered yachting in the region, is featured and there is an account of how Hong Kong ‘A’ class became one of the longest serving Olympic yacht racing designs.

In the section on 'Racing for Gold', the story of Lee Lai-Shan, Hong Kong's world champion and Olympic windsurfing gold medal winner, is shown along with the Mistral One Design Class (MOD) windsurfer that she sailed to victory in Atlanta in 1996.  The Dragon Boat has been raced in China for over 2000 years in China and this has become one of the fastest growing international water sports:  take note of the tips on how to win.

Hong Kong's water sports have a long history and include the pioneering days of SCUBA diving in the 1950s.

The gallery is sponsored by Y K Pao Family to honour  Sir Yue-Kong Pao.

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Sir Yue-Kong Pao Wing -
The Underwater World

The Sir Yue-Kong Pao Gallery explores the ocean: a rich, fragile, contested and still little understood part of the Earth.

The riches of the ocean are revealed both in the excavation of old wrecked ships by archaeologists and in the wonders of modern technology that enable valuable resources to be mined from the depths.

The fragility of the ocean`s ecosystem and some of the causes of its decline can be seen from the billions of tons of waste that is dumped in the sea.  Climate change plays a part in altering the balance in the ocean`s habitat, raising fears that species will be lost, some before they have even been discovered.

The resources of the sea and accusations of pollution have long led to disputes between countries.  There are some examples of these in the gallery with explanations on how they have been resolved. There are also accounts of how science and international cooperation enhances an understanding of the sea and its absolutely vital role in the delicate balance of the planet.   

The gallery is sponsored by Y K Pao Family to honour Sir Yue-Kong Pao.

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Sounds of the Sea

The crash of waves, the suck and roar of the backwash, the clang of a lighter’s derricks, the rhythmic thump of a big ship’s engine, the swishing of a propeller, the whine, whistle and roar of wind in the rigging – all seafarers will be familiar with these sounds of the sea. 

Super-imposed on these noises are gongs, whistles, bells, horns, sirens, diaphones, explosions and many more specific sounds that are used as warning signals and to send messages. There are explanations on how to interpret the different meanings as they are conveyed by a variety of pitch and pattern. 

Visitors can become even more in tune with the sea by listening to music that has been inspired by it.  The gallery features music ranging from classical to rock, and from folk to sea shanty, including Rimski-Korsakov, Rod Stewart, Da Hai (大海) and  ‘I’m a deepwater sailor just home from Hong Kong…’

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Humans and the Ocean

The gallery explains how the maritime industry evolved from local family businesses to global enterprises.  It traces the history of Chinese trade associations from guilds to large groups, such as the Hong Kong Shipowners Association (HKSOA) which, in addition to shipowners,  includes Hong Kong resident firms who service the industry - such as ship operators, ship managers, shipbrokers, insurers, financiers and lawyers - in its membership.

This gallery also describes the lives of the seafarers, their relationship with the owners and operators of the ships, as well as their needs in respect of health, welfare, safety and security at sea. 

C S Koo & CY Tung Gallery - 
Special Exhibitions & Events Gallery

The Hong Kong Maritime Museum's Special Exhibitions and Events Gallery has been the site of hundreds of public and private exhibitions, lectures, international conferences, concerts, product launches, parties and performances since re-opening at Pier 8. Conveniently located at the Central Harbour Waterfront, the venue overlooks Victoria Harbour against the backdrop of the Hong Kong skyline  

The gallery is sponsored by the Valles Group in honour of the Group's founder, C S Koo and by CY Tung and the Tung Foundation.

China’s First Maritime Modernization
Making of a Modern Port
Harbour Viewing Gallery
Carrying People
Fun on the Water
The Underwater World
Sounds of the Sea
People of the Sea
Special Exhibitions & Events Gallery
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