• What's On

    Special Exhibition

East Meets West: Maritime Silk Routes and Underwater Archaeology

  • Chasuble and Maniple

    Guangzhou, 18th or 19th century
    On Loan from the K. L. Leung Collection of Export Art
  • A Set of Coral headdress and necklace

    Tibet/Ladakh, 19th century
    On loan from the Mengdiexuan Collection
  • Javanese ceremonial kris dagger

    Indonesian, 19th century
    On loan from the Mengdiexuan Collection
  • A European priest with Chinese women and children

    Chinese artist Late 19th century Oil on canvas
    On loan from Ms. Mavis Lo
  • A Series of trading China paintings of the porcelain production process in the Qing dynasty

    Chinese artist, Late 18th century, Watercolour on paper
    Gift of Mrs. Susan Chen Hardy


Our underwater heritage encompasses the rich cultural relics of humankind. Such heritage, discovered through underwater archaeological investigations, provides testimony to our shared history and theSilk Routes which Chinese,Arab, Asian and Western traders followed for over 2000 years. 

The term, “die Seidenstraße” (The Silk Routes), was first coined by the Germangeologist Ferdinand Von Richthofen in 1877. The name was given to the ancient and extensivetranscontinental trade network connecting the East and the West. In the second century BCE, the imperial envoy Zhang Qian was dispatched to Central Asia during the time of the Han dynasty. Maritime trade starting from South China towards Central and West Asia was developed and commercial relations between the East and the West began to flourish.  

The spread of culture, decorative style and religious ideas came as a result of centuries of maritime trade between China and the world. The artefacts on display include materials from different cultures such as export ceramics from China and Southeast Asia and gemstones from Southeast and Central Asia. Some relics were even recovered through local underwater archaeological investigations. They all reflect trade development and cultural interactions between China and other countries.

With the generous support of the Lord Wilson Heritage Trust for the “Activating Local Records – the Story of High Island (Leung Shuen Wan)” project, as well as the support of the Museum’s Collections Committee and distinguished local collectors, it has been possible for the Museum to present this permanent exhibition about “Maritime Silk Routes”. It covers recent underwater archaeological discoveries and topics related to High Island and the Sai Kung sea, and aims to help visitors to understand Hong Kong's role in the ancient maritime trade network that stretched across the Pearl Delta River Region, Southern China, Asia and beyond.



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.

Humans and the ocean

From May 2019
Upgrades of the permanent galleries are gradually coming to fruition, with the completion of the new Humans and the ocean, showcasing selected objects from the Museum's 15 themed galleries as an epilogue, as well as a prologue of the visitor experience, telling the stories between humans and the ocean in the past 6,000 years. 

Interesting exhibits include Majiayao culture’s ceramic pot with two handles featuring shells; the fishing tool and Crania of head grunts from the Neolithic Hong Kong; Song and Yuan era's daily utilities with ship imageries on bronze mirror and Yuan blue-and-white ceramics water dropper; the statue of Lin Zexu (1785-1850), a Chinese scholar-official who ordered the destruction of opium owned by foreign traders; Glass negatives of the Hong Kong and Whampoa dockyard glass negatives and a watercolour painting of Aberdeen provide a glimpse of the mid-20th century's local maritime history. 

Enjoy your visit and exploration of maritime history in Hong Kong and beyond!

To See a World in a Grain of Sand: Ancient Maritime and Overland trade

From 17 May 2016 
‘To See a world in a Grain of Sand’ is an exhibition that uses a small number of objects to communicate about the extensive maritime and overland trade routes of the past. Sand is an interesting metaphor for the land and sea trade which characterised the ancient Silk Road. The objects chosen for this exhibition highlight key themes around the circulation of commodities, people and ideas across the Silk Road over time.
Inspired by the first line of the poem by British poet William Blake (1757-1827), this exhibition explores the idea that the miniature can capture the essence of the vast. For the Silk Road, this includes both the maritime and land routes and the fascinating cross-cultural exchanges on art and culture across China, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.
This exhibition offers visitors a glimpse into the spread of decorative style, religious ideas and the development of technology that came about as a result of centuries of trade and cultural connections between China and the world. The artefacts on display include materials from different cultures related to China – far and near. They include export ceramics from China and Southeast Asia, gemstones from Southeast and Central Asia, Mongolia and the Mediterranean, Turkish saddles decorated with textile patternand ancient Roman glassware used in China. Some of the Chinese export ceramics on display demonstrate the influence of nomadic and Central Asian metalwork.