The Hong Kong Maritime Museum has assembled the most comprehensive public collection of marine artefacts in Southern China. Key items highlight over two thousand years of human history – from Han dynasty archaeological relics to the modern technology found aboard the latest container vessels that transport manufactured items from the Pearl River Delta to far corners of the world.
Ceramics, from the humble earthenware to the refined porcelain, have played an important role that transcends the boundaries of time and space. The beautiful pieces from the era of the great China Trade for one, are so coveted by Western consumers that it became perhaps the most important of trades between China and the West.
Apart from these relatively modern pieces, the museum is also home to ceramics from earlier Chinese dynasties. The artistic motifs and qualities of these fine pieces offers a reflection of the characteristics of the particular era.
The museum currently holds over 300 objects dating from the 200s to 1900s AD in its collection of ceramics.
The craft of ship modelling, an art nearly as old and sophisticated as shipbuilding itself offers us an opportunity to understand the evolution of shipbuilding technology. While artistic considerations do lead to deviations away from a fully accurate depiction of the contemporary ship, the essence and interesting details are often perfectly encapsulated by these fine pieces.
The Museum is fortunate to have a collection of more than 100 models that ranges from realistic modern replicas of tankers, to pieces exquisitely crafted in a variety of materials, which ranges from silver to bamboo.
Nautical Instruments & Naval Artefacts
From the moment that vessels first set sail, mariners have been searching for ways to plot the shortest course to their destination and to predict conditions at sea. The Museum's collection of navigational instruments tracks the gradual advance in equipment to determine location, direction and weather conditions.
The museum also displays a range of other naval artefacts, ranging from marine chronometers, naval weaponries, to ship's bells.
The application of pigment to a surface has long been the way for artists to express themselves, giving a contemporary account of the times they live in, communicating ideas, recording scenes or simply conveying something beautiful.
A closer look at the detail in the paintings, particularly those on the China Trade era, will reveal the subtleties of artists in depicting a world of symbols, intrigue, themes and metaphors. The Museum is proud to offer its collection of China Trade paintings, which is perhaps the finest of its kind in Asia.
Photography is a vital source of historical information and the view through a camera lens adds true details to people, fashions, scenes and objects in a way that an artist, however talented, cannot. Photos collected by the museum speak of a common story, one that shows how Hong Kong's history is intimately intertwined with the sea the seafarers, and the sea vessels.
The Museum's photographic collection ranges from pictures of the first commercially produced prints of the mid-nineteenth century to modern computerized digital images.
The Alexander Hume Painting
This giant panoramic scene (gouache on silk, 91.5cm height, 276.5cm width), is thought to have been created in a Canton studio. Made specifically for the European market, it shows a western naturalistic landscape style mounted in the traditional Chinese hand-scroll format. This classical piece of Sino-Western fusion illustrates the starting point of the Canton trade system 250 years ago.Silk painting also highlighted the rapid development of Chinese silk trade at that time.