The Hong Kong Maritime Museum has reopened in its new location at Central Ferry Pier 8, on 26th February 2013. The museum used to call the ground floor of the Murray House in Stanley its home when it first opened to the public in 2005. It closed down in June 2012 when its lease contract expired.
The museum's new location used to be the pier for Star Ferry services between Central and Hung Hom. The building was renovated to accommodate the museums' library and collections of maritime and non-maritime related artifacts such as models of ancient and modern ships, paintings, ceramics, trade goods and ships manifests, which have grown tremendously over the years.
The move allowed the museum to expand its galleries and exhibition areas with more than 4,000 square-metres of floor space, almost ten times bigger than its old location. The Hong Kong Maritime Museum now features fifteen themed galleries including a viewing gallery, a special exhibitions gallery, maritime heritage resource centre and shop. A cafe is also in the works.
Some of the featured exhibitions are China's maritime heritage, the Canton Trade, the Pirate Coast, Hong Kong`s harbour, the evolution of China`s sea routes, relations with foreign powers, maritime communications, charting, navigation and pilotage, sounds of the sea, shipping today, port development and safety at sea and Chinese marine art. Aside from funding from the government, some of the galleries were set up with the help of private individuals and businesses, who believe that the preservation of Hong Kong`s maritime history should be a priority.
One of the popular attractions in the museum is an early 19th century scroll depicting historical events of piracy in China in the early Jiaqing period (1796-1820). The painting is considered as one of Hong Kong’s most important historical artifacts, though the identity of the artist is unknown. Aside from the one prominently displayed in the Sea Bandits Gallery, the scroll also has a digital version that allow museum visitors to see the artwork's minute details.
The new location in Central also made the museum more accessible to the public compared to the Murray House location which is some distance from Hong Kong's central districts and many schools. The crowd that the museum will draw is also expected to bring new life to Central's waterfront.