Shipshape

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From its humble beginnings in a small site in Stanley’s historic Murray House with only two galleries, the Hong Kong Maritime Museum (HKMM) now boasts 13 galleries, a shop and a café, all easily accessible at the Central Ferry Pier 8. The museum spans four spacious floors, with a deck to view the city skyline whilst watching ferries and vessels criss-cross Victoria Harbour.

The HKMM is the place to appreciate Hong Kong’s maritime heritage past, present and future. Thankfully, it’s oceans apart from a dusty old museum. Instead, maritime is made magical using art, ship models, interactive displays and 21st century technology to create an innovative attraction with exhibitions, dynamic displays and educational events. Seafaring stories of settlers, travellers, traders, pirates and battleships are brought to life.

Visitors will experience Hong Kong’s growth from small fishing village to major world port city, with huge modern container and cruise terminals. Learn about fishing junks and tea clippers; sail, steam and diesel power; water sports, from dragon boating to yachting; and our oceans’ future.

To help kids learn in an enjoyable, light-hearted way, HKMM has a dedicated education centre with Caroline Lang, head of education and public programmes, and Annette Lo, education programme coordinator, at the helm. Last summer, Caroline and Annette started a children’s programme with family activities on the first Sunday of every month in a bright corner of B Deck. Overlooking the harbour, the family corner is run on a free, drop-in basis from 2pm to 5pm.

Sunday sessions include children’s picture books, puzzles and toys about boats and sailing. According to Annette, a wooden ship with different sizes of cargo to be loaded without tipping is especially popular with all ages. Children enjoy using activity sheets to locate and draw objects around the museum. Sometimes workshops are linked to an exhibition, like a recent collaboration with a local artist who’d created an ocean conservation installation that let kids create key rings of endangered sea creatures. 

This summer holiday, Annette and Caroline will run weekly activities. Expect interactive presentations, family tours and a re-run of a successful photography workshop. The popular Sea Bandits gallery (all about pirates!) will be brought to life during dramatised tours, complete with costumed characters. Check the website for details: www.hkmaritimemuseum.org.

This summer’s special exhibition Palaces of the Seas, about French passenger liners, will surely prove popular with numerous fascinating insights into sea journeys, including photos and menus. Kids can learn about life on-board for passengers and crew, and play deck games whilst adults recline in a deckchair – the perfect way to experience life on an ocean wave whilst remaining firmly on dry land! 

Afterwards, head up to the rooftop restaurant to discuss sea stories over tasty rations at Café 8, a social enterprise run by The Nesbitt Centre. Whatever the weather, set sail soon for maritime magic.

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Gillian Johnston
Stirling, in Scotland’s Braveheart country, was where Gillian grew up. An inquisitive, talkative, active child who didn’t like to nap when there was fun to be had, she quickly learnt to multitask, being known to do jigsaws, read, knit and watch TV at the same time, usually whilst eating. Her inquisitive nature led to a long career as a court lawyer, during which time, Gillian fell in love with Vincent, with whom she now shares life’s many adventures. A keen cook since childhood, Gillian has combined her passions for food and travel, frequently dragging Vincent round the globe armed with little more than a rucksack and guidebook. Calling Hong Kong home since 2007, she made a daring escape from the law a couple of years ago, opting to volunteer as an advocate for a local charity instead. Now Gillian happily multitasks as a domestic goddess and gym bunny whilst writing and planning the next adventure. Read about her travels, tiffin and exploits at www.gillianjohnston.wordpress.com.

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