For much of its history, Hong Kong has been inseparable from its neon signs, both in fact and in the imagination. First introduced to the city in the 1920s, neon’s electrified, gas-filled tubes had their local heyday from the 1950s through the 1980s, so much so that, as early as 1964, a government report could boast that “A million neon signs light the streets proclaiming their messages in every colour.” In recent years, neon signs have been retreating from Hong Kong’s cityscape due to government regulations and, especially, the rise of LEDs. Nevertheless, as emblems of the city and as artifacts of visual culture—of typography and visual communication, and of art, cinema and photography—they remain vibrant as ever.
“We’ve been here since 1971, and our neon sign has been with us the whole time. Now the sign is getting old; no one is willing to fix it. But we’re still very proud of it. Most of us have spent more than half our lives working here.”
– Staff from Paris Cotton Singlets, backgrounded by the Paris Cotton Singlets sign.
15 Pak Sha Road, Causeway Bay
NEONSIGNS.HK online exhibition
The NEONSIGNS.HK website includes essays, videos, a neon timeline and an interactive Neon Map. Visit our website at www.neonsigns.hk
Hong Kong's Neon Signs - Then and Now
Visit our other Google Cultural Institute exhibit where old photos of neon-lit streets are juxtaposed with their present-day views, together with a video documentary where master craftsmen explain the dying art of making neon, creating a powerful record of how quickly the neon is disappearing from Hong Kong’s streets.
With thanks to all the photographers, artists and contributors to the NEONSIGNS.HK online exhibition.
NEONSIGNS.HK is presented by M+, museum for visual culture, West Kowloon Cultural District
This exhibit is prepared by Aric Chen, Chloe Chow, Kingsley Jayasekera and Gloria Wong. (in alphabetical order)