2015

The Museum Building 

Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences

Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences

A Hong Kong Landmark
The Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences, established in 1996, is an unique institution charting the historical development of medical sciences in Hong Kong.  It intends to serve both as an educational venue and to restore and conserve medical objects of historical value. As such, it is the first of its kind amongst medical museums in the world! 

Preservation and Adaptive Re-Use of Heritage Building in Hong Kong - using the Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences (HKMMS) as a Case Study.
Introductory Video (in Cantonese)
All rights reserved by HKMMS

Museum virtual tour. All rights reserved by HKMMS.

Hong Kong's First Purpose-Built Medical Laboratory 
Well before the founding of the Museum, the building - called the Bacteriological Institute - was established in 1906 as the very first purpose-built medical laboratory in Hong Kong.  It was deliberately situated at the site of Tai Ping Shan plague outbreak. 
Bacteriological Institute (1910) 
As evident from this early 20th century photograph, the Bacteriological Institute originally comprised of a main building, and two subsidiary blocks: one designed to accommodate the attendants, the other including stables to house laboratory animals. Over the years, the Institute played a significant role in the development of Hong Kong's medical service.
The main building is based on British architectural design principles, drawing references from the Edwardian period, and representing Hong Kong architecture in the first decade of the century. It was transformed to suit tropical conditions, with expansive balconies and well-placed windows to encourage cross-ventilation.

The West Facade and Slope

At the ground level, the central bay features a low central doorway. Above, the tripartite window and the pediment together emphasize the significance of the laboratories on the first floor. The pilasters and attached columns framing the windows have Ionic capitals.

The use of Chinese roof tiles is probably due to sensitivity to the local materials and deference to the local culture. It is interesting to imagine that in order to encourage the creativity of the exploring pathologists, the architect's impulse allowed a folly of obelisks to sprout forth from the top of the building corners in stoic formation.

Verandahs are a common feature on colonial buildings in areas of hot climate. They are designed both to protect the interior rooms from extremes of climate as well as to provide a covered sitting-out area where the building occupants may enjoy being semi-outdoors without being exposed to the glaring sun.

A timber grille delicately carved in floral design is situated above the entrance doorway in the foyer. The grille provides ventilation for the main staircase above it. Grille and paneling are all painted white, which was popular during the turn of the nineteenth century into the twentieth.

While the arched entrance is relatively modest, the Entrance Hall is overwhelmed by the austere and heavily balustraded staircase that straddles two floors in three flights.

View of the Entrance Hall and Staircase

The timber staircase is painted black and has heavy ornate square newel posts at the corners. The balusters unit consisting of a pair of rectangular balusters supporting two hollow rectangular inserts, is considered rather Chinese in appearance.

The inner part of the entrance hall has a fine decorative plaster ceiling with geometric pattern on its surface, edged by a cornice supported by a series of modillion decorations.

View of the decorative plaster ceiling and cornices

The Palladian Window

This tripartite window with coloured glass panes, gives light to the lobby and main staircase.

View of the staircase from inside the historic laboratory

Balcony with cast-iron railings and colourful patterned floor tiles.

Games Room & part of Old Lab

Dentils are the repeating tooth-like blocks supporting the ground floor cornice, while modillions are the series of ornamental supports under the cornice at the roof. Both types of ornaments are frequently used in Corinthian and Composite styles of classical architecture.

First floor gallery featuring one of the original fireplaces embellished with decorative timber surrounds, tiles and cast iron grating.

Flask-shaped Finial

This feature has been suggested to represent a laboratory flask or an apothecary's jar; either of which symbolizes the medical role of the building.

Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences
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