In November, I visited two museums about Hong Kong’s maritime history, Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence and Hong Kong Maritime Museum respectively. Though the details of their exhibition are quite similar, many differences can be found between them as Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence is officially organised, while Hong Kong Maritime Museum is private. The report will compare their similarities and differences in various aspects.
About the operation of two museums, the obvious difference is that Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence belongs to the government, but Hong Kong Maritime Museum is private. Because of this, Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence has a large amount of budget for daily operation and that is why it is non-profitable and free of charge. However, as Hong Kong Maritime Museum is privately operated, it is profitable and charges from visitors. Many exhibits are also sponsored by companies and businessmen. This difference leads to the contrast between aims, structures, details, etc. of two museums which will be talked about below.
Due to different running systems, the purposes of the exhibition in two museums are not similar. Establishing Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence, the government does not only wish to boost the public’s understanding of local history, but also raise their sense of belonging as Chinese. For example, there is a section deeply illustrating Hong Kong people’s miserable lives under Japan occupation in World War II and how they treated us cruelly. At the end of the exhibition, a gallery depicts the development of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and their role in the defence of Hong Kong after the turnover so that visitors can have better understanding of the relationship between Hong Kong and China. However, Hong Kong Maritime Museum aims at introducing more Hong Kong’s and coastal Guangdong’s maritime development in economic aspect, such as shipping trade and harbour development. Therefore, these two museums are with different aims because of the dissimilar operation systems.
For the details in two exhibitions, there is a similarity that both of them mainly introduced Hong Kong’s and coastal Guangdong’s maritime history. In Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence, it descripts the changes in coastal Guangdong’s defence from the Ming Dynasty to modern times. For example, it mentions that in the Ming and Qing Dynasty, there were many forts, batteries and war junks set over Hong Kong waters for defencing pirates and foreign opponents. After British dominance, the technique of facilities became more advanced like the Torpedo Station. For Hong Kong Maritime Museum, it also mentions a lot the maritime development in Hong Kong and adjacent areas since the Ming Dynasty, like exhibiting navigational facilities, goods in shipping trade, etc. Therefore, the similarity of the museums is that they also introduce Hong Kong and coastal Guangdong’s maritime history in order to raise visitors’ understanding of it.