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Past Exhibitions 

Sailor-Made: Manifestations of Nautical Fashion in Hong Kong Culture

26 March 2021 to 30 November 2021

With a selection of historical images, uniform, and costume exhibits, Sailor-Made showcases how nautical clothing has been adopted, appropriated, and reflected in mainstream fashions and global pop culture. From Royal dress code in the United Kingdom back in the 19th century, to prominent designer fashion brands, the trend for sailors’ fashion has until now remain relevant. More so, nautical fashion influenced school uniforms in East Asia from the 1920s and onwards alongside popular culture and entertainment industries in Hong Kong and beyond, such as animations like Sailor Moon sparking off the subculture of “cosplay” in Japan and East Asia. Sailor chic still has much to inspire contemporary fashion and day-to-day wear. 

In association with the School of Humanities, The University of Hong Kong, this is also the fruition of a museum-university partnership, with undergraduate interns' participation to present the exhibition.

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Maritime Crossroads: Millennia of Global Trade in Hong Kong
A Special Exhibition on 6,000 Years of Hong Kong Maritime Stories

3 June 2021 to 12 August 2021

The Hong Kong Maritime Museum (HKMM) presents a special exhibition, Maritime Crossroads: Millennia of Global Trade in Hong Kong, from 3 June to 12 August 2021. Taking the audience on a journey through time from the Neolithic to the Internet era, the exhibition illustrates the concepts of crossroads, flows, transitions, migration, and settlement through the circulations not only of commodities but also of people, their culture, and their stories that turned Hong Kong into a cosmopolitan city of possibilities and opportunities.

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Maritime Crossroads

The STEAM of steam: 
a technician fixing stuff today creates the science and complex technology of tomorrow

31 March 2021 to 26 May 2021

Clever ideas for devices driven by steam go back to the 3rd century BC, although it was not until the 17th century that some Europeans had the right techniques, tools and materials to produce the first generation of very inefficient engines. Another century of refinement by engineers produced ever more efficient and economical models, and by the early 19th century engineers had devised paddle wheels and then propellers so that steam engines were used to propel ships. Over the next 50 years the world was transformed and the value of sea trade increased rapidly. The future was often created by engineers (E) and technicians (T) combining their knowledge and skills with creative imagination (A). Their new inventions gave an impetus to finding the scientific explanations (S) that, combined with mathematics (M), fed back and improved results.

By displaying the collections of the Museum and the Swire HK Archive Service, this exhibition shows both the history of marine steam propulsion and the close-knit relationship between disciplines under the popular banner of STEAM education.

The STEAM of steam:
Involuntary Pairs

"Involuntary Pairs" Man-made lost in Nature

18 December 2020 to 21 March 2021

Involuntary Pairs is a collection of objects of marine plastic pollution, individually picked up from Asian beaches by artist liina klauss since 2013. Each man-made object is matched with an item found in nature to form an Involuntary Pair: the two objects look alike, yet one originates from nature, the other from human manufacturing.

Artist profile
liina klauss is a German land-artist (1974) who explores visual and conceptual perceptions of waste, specifically marine pollution. She translates environmental pollution into over-flowing installations of screaming colours and horrifying beauty. liina started to make environmental installations in Hong Kong in 2011, after quitting her career as a fashion-designer. One of her main objectives is to involve people into her creation process. “Creative action is a tool for transformation and connection and ultimately change.” She says, “Art is great. Making art is greater.” Today liina creates everything from delicate mosaics to large scale land-art.

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Maps Exhibition

The World on Paper: From Square to Sphericity

18 December 2019 to 15 March 2020

The Qian Kun, one of the trigrams in the Yijing (Book of Changes), traditionally represents the concept of tiandi (heaven and earth) for the Chinese. Chinese understanding of the outside world was changed gradually by expeditions and exploration. During the Ming and the Qing dynasties, Western missionaries introduced new concepts and discoveries in fields such as science and cartography to China, thereby greatly influencing scientific development and China’s perception of the world. At the same time, Chinese maps and books also reached Japan and Europe, enriching the whole world’s understanding of China, and promoting the exchange of culture and knowledge.

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THE DRAGON AND THE EAGLE: American Traders in China,
A Century of Trade from 1784 to 1900

14 December 2018 – 14 April 2019

The dragon and the eagle have long been recognised as the symbols of China and the United States respectively. At the end of the eighteenth century, China was the oldest empire in the world, while the United States was the youngest republic. Their initial relations began when the first American trading ship, the Empress of China, sailed from New York to Canton on Washington’s Birthday, February 22, 1784. The distinctive Stars and Stripes inspired the Chinese to refer to America as the “Flowery-Flag” country. 

Curated by the Hong Kong Maritime Museum, this long–planned exhibition aims to unfold the history of early Sino–American trade in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The exhibition will be divided into five sections, namely “Dreaming of the East”, “Treaty Ports”, “Speeding up the Trade”, “Exotic Tastes”, and “Building a Community”. 

The Dragon And The Eagle

Passions for Shipbuilding

18 November 2018 – 31 March 2019

Curated by the Hong Kong Maritime Museum, this long–planned exhibition aims to unfold the history of early Sino–American trade in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The exhibition will be divided into five sections, namely “Dreaming of the East”, “Treaty Ports”, “Speeding up the Trade”, “Exotic Tastes”, and “Building a Community”. With selections from the prominent collections of the Hong Kong Maritime Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Winterthur Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Peabody Essex Museum, the Independence Seaport Museum, the Baker Library, Harvard Business School, The Kelton Foundation, the Swire HK Archive Service, the HSBC Archives, and a number of local and US-based collectors, this exhibition showcases valuable trade goods, export artifacts, nautical instruments, and archival materials, demonstrating the two nations’ bilateral benefits in maritime trade, commerce and business, marine and nautical technologies, and social and cultural developments. The exhibition also serves as a platform for visitors to review this aspect of our shared history.

Passions for Shipbuilding

Activating Local Records – The Story of High Island

29 November 2018 to 15 Oct 2019

Thanks to the Lord Wilson Heritage Trust for their steadfast support for the “Activating Local Records – the Story of High Island” project, it has been possible to conduct extensive research on the history and culture of High Island, Sai Kung which has been duly recorded. These comprehensive records on the local area cover its natural landscape, places of historical interest, human activities, religious customs, education, economy and development. Through this exhibition, the audience will have the opportunity to better understand the pivotal status of Sai Kung as a regional hub of the Maritime Silk Road in Hong Kong, South China and maritime trade, the important stories of the fishermen of Hong Kong’s islands. This exhibition is one of the major activities held in commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Lord Wilson Heritage Trust.

The Story of High Island
The Story of High Island

East Meets West: Maritime Silk Routes in the 13th – 18th Centuries

14 August – 11 November 2018

East Meets West: Maritime Silk Routes in the 13th -18th Centuries is the highlight of the HKMM exhibition programme this summer. Co-organised with the Guangdong Museum and supported by the Department of Culture of Guangdong Province and Home Affairs Bureau HKSAR, and sponsored by The Swire Group Charitable Trust, the exhibition will present important artefacts in the Southern Song to the Early Qing dynasties in the perspectives of community trade, religions, cultural exchange, historical and maritime archaeology, to encourage understanding of the development of maritime silk roads along the Southern coast of China. Based on the travelling exhibition presented by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage at Internationales Maritimes Museum (Germany) and Museum Palazzo Venezia (Italy) respectively in 2017, and this re-curated exhibition will feature additional highlights, including shipwrecks of Nanhai No. 1, Wanli and Nanao No. 1, and from local Hong Kong waters.  

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East Meets West

The Silver Age: Origins and Trade of Chinese Export Silver

19 December 2017 – 25 February 2018

Silver, as early currency, has been linked to global economy, maritime trade and international relations. Silver wares made by this rare metal triggered the technical and cultural exchange of handicrafts between countries and regions. Curated by the Hong Kong Maritime Museum and co-organized with the Home Affairs Bureau, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Guangdong Museum, this exhibition is divided into six sections, including ‘Global Maritime Trade’, ‘Making of Chinese Silver’, ‘Export Silver’, ‘Workshops in Treaty Ports’, ‘From Canton to Hong Kong’ and ‘East Meets West: Table Etiquette’. Taking the role of silver in global economic development as a starting point, it explores the origins of Chinese export silver, Hong Kong as a trading hub of export silver during the late nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century, and Hong Kong’s close relation with other silver manufacturing centers in China. Selected from the prominent collections of the Guangdong Museum, the HSBC Archives, Hong Kong Museum of History, Hong Kong Museum of Art and a number of local collectors, this exhibition is organized in conjunction with the celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR.

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The Silver Age
On Sharks And Humanity

On Sharks And Humanity

29 June 2017 – 31 December 2017

On Sharks and Humanity is a powerful contemporary art exhibition co-curated by Parkview Arts Action and the Hong Kong Maritime Museum, and launched in partnership with the international non-profit organization WildAid.


With the aim of raising public awareness about the pivotal role sharks numbers play in maintaining the balance of the marine ecosystem, and the urgent need for shark conservation, the exhibition brings together 36 top international contemporary artists that have joined forces to raise awareness on the negative impact of the shark fin trade. The featured artworks also function as a unique and interactive dialogue alongside the museum’s maritime collection. The first of its kind, the exhibition demonstrates the relationship between art and society, and emphasizes the social responsibility of museums, artists and the public.

The exhibition will be held both inside and outside of the museum, as the fifth edition of a multidisciplinary exhibition that has been shown previously in Monaco, Moscow, Beijing and Singapore to great acclaim.

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Pirates of the South China Sea: Chasing Cheung Po Tsai and the Port Cities

28 April to 8 October 2017

This exhibition will explore the development of ports and early trade routes in the South China Sea during the 16th to 20th centuries. It will provide a fresh angle on maritime history with its narrative through the eyes of pirates, with a focus on Hong Kong, then Pearl Delta River and Southern China. By exploring the locations of pirate bases such as those of Cheung Po Tsai, the exhibition will begin by tracing the development of China’s ports and trading routes from the Ming to the Qing dynasties.


The exhibition will also shed light on the evolution of shipbuilding technologies within the context of sea piracy in the South China Sea during the Ming and Qing dynasties. It will show how shipbuilding technologies and piracy were inter-influential; shipbuilding technologies were improved in order to enhance maritime safety while at the same time, the tactics of pirate attacks were influenced to counter these technological innovations.

Cheung Po Tsai
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