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A Black & White Look Back at HK from Over 100 Years Ago at Photo Exhibit in Tsim Sha Tsui History Museum

A Black & White Look Back at HK from Over 100 Years Ago at Photo Exhibit in Tsim Sha Tsui History Museum

A photograph taken in Hong Kong at the end of the 19th Century. ©LCSD

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"Images Through Time: Photos of Old Hong Kong," an exhibit now open at the Hong Kong Museum of History (address: 100 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon), is displaying photos providing a look back at Hong Kong and the lives of its residents from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s.

The exhibit comprises pieces from among the more than 10,000 photographs of Hong Kong and other locations in China the Moonchu Foundation, an organization involved in cultural education, purchased in Britain, in addition to a selection of some of the 700 or so photographs in the history museum's possession. These photos have been blown up to poster-size copies and placed on large panels reaching to the ceiling.

The shots portray much of Hong Kong life from the mid-19th century onward, after the area had become a British colony. A number of buildings sprang up, primarily in Central, while in the same panoramic view one can see the Kowloon side prior to its cession to the British. These and other historical records give a broad-ranging look at this period, from government buildings to the everyday lives of the citizens.

A visitor to the exhibit can see that when structures along the shore to facilitate trade and the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Company's building were built, most of Hong Kong was surrounded by mountains. What makes a striking impression is that one can clearly see in a single photograph how East and West existed in distinct, separate spheres, quite unlike the Hong Kong of today, where they intermix freely. Other parts of the exhibit open a window on schools and means of transport. One photo tells how prior to the arrival of trains and buses the rickshaw, introduced from Japan, became a vital way of getting around for many years in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, one goal of the exhibit, in addition to presenting photographs and other pieces collected by Western photographers such as John Thomson from Scotland during their stays in Hong Kong, is to present how cameras and photographs were brought from the West to China and Hong Kong in the 1860s. Other photography on display provides a vivid look at Hong Kong residents showing their wonder as they face a lens for the first time on Queens Road East.

The museum is open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on weekdays and 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on weekends and holidays, and closed on Tuesdays unless that day is a holiday. Admission is HK$20 for adults (HK$10 on Wednesdays) and HK$10 for students and seniors 60 and up (HK$5 on Wednesdays). Guided tours in Cantonese are provided daily by museum attendants, while tours in English and Mandarin (limit 30 people) are given on weekends and holidays. "Images Through Time: Photos of Old Hong Kong" will be open until April 21st.

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