China's Maritime Heritage
Robert Y.T. Chen Gallery -
Traditional Maritime China
The Robert Y.T. Chen Gallery presents the maritime world of traditional China, tracing the roots of its famous and distinctive sailing junk`s hull and rig from the earliest days of rafts, dugouts and coracles.
Covering the period from the Song Dynasty through to Qing - the days when China`s fleets ‘ruled Asia’s seas’ - the gallery tracks the growth of China’s trade routes. The diverse and exotic goods that were traded, so prized by people from near and far, are on display and can be both seen and smelled. An interactive timeline plots China’s progress in maps, comparing it to developments elsewhere. There are also the displays describing the seven extraordinary voyages of the Treasure Fleets of Zhenghe to admire.
The gallery has been sponsored by Grand Seatrade Shipping Company Ltd. in memory of its founder, The ‘Grand Old Man of Shipping’, Robert Y.T. Chen.
Anthony & Susan Hardy Gallery -
The China Trade
A rich collection of paintings and artefacts displayed in The Anthony & Susan Hardy Gallery gives testimony to the Canton Trade, an arrangement between China and foreign governments that limited trading to one port, Guangzhou, known to Europeans as Canton.
This trade, which began in 1757, was plied by foreign merchants in a small group of thirteen ‘factories’ with Chinese `hong` or middlemen facilitating deals. The trade encompassed a range of Chinese produced goods, many of which are on display in the gallery and include tea, paintings, furniture, silks, hand-painted wallpapers, fans, lacquer ware, porcelain, ivories, pewter ware and silverware.
The great wealth of the trade between China, Europe and America passed through the hands of these merchants. However, few western goods found a significant market for their own goods in return, making the trade one-sided. In the late 18th century, the British and Americans used the import of opium into China to redress the balance of trade, resulting ultimately in war and the end of the Canton Trade in 1839.
This gallery has been sponsored by Anthony & Susan Hardy who have also donated a great many of the treasures that grace the gallery.
The D L Wu Keying Display -
The Pioneering Voyage of the Keying
The extraordinary model of the Keying, which the Museum is lucky enough to have on view in this display, was built on a scale of 1 to 12. The three-masted Chinese trading junk, built of teak, was the first junk to sail around the Cape of Good Hope.
She left Hong Kong in December 1846 and moored in New York the following July, where she remained for several months as a much visited tourist attraction. The Keying sailed on to Boston in November 1847 and then to England, arriving there at the end of March 1848 where a medal was struck in honour of her visit.
The display has been sponsored by Taiship, in honour of the company`s founder, D.L.Wu.
Pacific Basin Shipping Gallery -
Piracy is a very serious issue for seafarers and shipowners today, and it was a scourge for centuries around the China seas.
The pirate Zhang Baozai operated six fleets in the South China Sea with over 70,000 followers, presenting the largest maritime security problem any nation has ever faced anywhere. An extraordinary ink painting scroll entitled ‘Pacifying the South China Sea’ which is 18 metres in length, depicts the nine-day Battle of Lantau that heralded the strategy of Viceroy Bailing to rid the Chinese seas of this blight.
The gallery also contains weapons used by pirates, dioramas and the huge cannon that the Qing Dynasty used in coastal defences. There are Images and artefacts relating to the piracy that plagued Hong Kong in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including portraits of ships that were hunted in the Rongsheng Heavy Industries China Export exhibit.
The gallery is sponsored by Pacific Basin Shipping Limited.
T Y Chao Gallery -
Creating Victoria Harbour
The T Y Chao 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 Wah Kwong Maritime Holdings Ltd. in honour of the company’s founder, T Y Chao.
Swire Gallery -
Hong Kong Ships and Shipyards
The first section of the Swire 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.
The gallery is sponsored by The Swire Group Charitable Trust in the name of the Swire Group.