Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware
The K. S. Lo Gallery has very ancient Chinese ceramic articles up to about 1,300 years old and a teahouse featuring free tea ceremonies and various teas to buy. Flagstaff House has antiques and modern artistic tea set displays. Flagstaff House is the oldest surviving British Colonial building in Hong Kong. It was built in 1846.
The Museum of Tea Ware has a collection of ceramic teaware and ancient antique ceramics and Chinese seals, and it offers a lot of instruction via a free tea ceremony and instructional videos and exhibits. There are two adjacent mansions that house exhibits. The K. S. Lo Gallery presently houses very ancient articles on loan from other museums such as Taiwanese museums. Flagstaff House has a collection of modern artistic teaware as well as antiques and wide-screen video displays. So whether you want to see ancient ceramics more than 1,000 years old from the Jin Dynasty or see modern artistic tea set displays, or have a meal, or just see old British buildings, the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware in Hong Kong Park is a place to go.
Hong Kong has unusually good museums. The government invested a lot of money for museums and architectural preservation. One of the main attractions of Hong Kong Park is the tea museum that is housed in Flagstaff House and the adjacent K. S. Lo Gallery. The museum displays articles on loan from other museums as well as its own collection of pieces. In the K. S. Lo Gallery, there are currently ceramic bowls and other ceramic objects from the Yuan (1271-1368), Song (960-1279), and Tang (618-907) Dynasties. These are extremely old antiques, and it is neat to see works of art made 1,300 years ago. These pieces are generally much older than those in Flagstaff House. Flagstaff House has other antique teaware and Chinese seals along with modern tea sets. It is fun to see the museum's collection and learn about Chinese tea and its history, have a meal, and buy tea while on a visit to the Flagstaff House Tea Ware Museum in Hong Kong Park.
K. S. Lo Gallery
There is a tea house and a collection of very old ceramic pieces in the K. S. Lo Gallery. The building has a fairly simple doorway. Inside, there is a receptionist desk and a tea house on the first floor. A tea ceremony is performed for free during normal museum hours, but after the museum is closed, the restaurant stays open to sell dry tea of many varieties, brewed tea drinks, "Dim Sum" or Chinese snacks, and full meals. If you get there at the right time, you can sit and watch someone do a tea ceremony and prepare tea. Then you can drink the tea for free! The staff person instructs on different kinds of tea. The restaurant has both inexpensive and very expensive tea. Prices range from 35 HKD or 5 USD to 10,000 HKD or 1,300 USD for 12 ounces. The more expensive tea on the menu is served only with an appointment. Westerners unfamiliar with expensive Chinese tea and its effects may wonder who would pay that much for tea. But by personal experience, the expensive kinds of tea such as pu'er tea have mood altering effects and are probably medicinal. Dim Sum snacks such as soup or stir-fried noodles cost about 20 or 30 HKD, and full meals at the restaurant cost at least 80 HKD or more than 10 USD.
Tang Dynasty Ewer (8th-9th centuries)
A spiral staircase leads to the very ancient ceramics exhibit on the second floor. There is a small darkened exhibition hall with glass cases. There are some wonderful pieces of extremely old ceramics from each of the dynasties from the Yuan or Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) to the Jin Dynasty. You can study the different styles of ceramics over a 500 or 600 year history. Some of the pieces are simple small bowls or containers. There are also large pitchers or other vessels.
If you come in from the front entrance, Flagstaff House is just to the west of the K. S. Lo Gallery. It is a two-story British mansion. It is a solidly built and painted white. Inside, there are two floors of galleries. The first floor of Flagstaff house has a museum gift shop and gallery rooms. On interesting exhibit in the hall is of tea leaves of various kinds in small bowls so that you can see how different kinds of Chinese tea varieties look like when they are in dry loose-leaf form. The second floor of the exhibit currently houses a display of modern ceramic art tea ware.
Flagstaff House was built between the years 1844 to 1846. It was built with many tall pillars that circle the building. The style of construction is simply and airy. In 1984, it became part of the Hong Kong Museum of Art, and it showcases teaware art. It was the first museum in the world that was devoted to the collection, study and display of teaware. The core of the museum's collection was donated by K. S. Lo. In 1994, the K. S. Lo Foundation donated 25 pieces of rare Chinese ceramics and over 600 Chinese seals. Some seals are very big. Seals were used as a stamp to sign documents. The oldest object that they donated dates from the Western Zhou era (1046?-771 BC).
Several British mansions and military barracks became a part of Hong Kong Park. The park is remarkable because it is free, and there is flowing water and a big walk-through aviary. The park was built on hills, and there are a lot of paths and fountains. Seeing the old British buildings framed in by the Lippo Center, the Bank of China Tower and the wall of other surrounding skyscrapers is a remarkable sight.
The aviary in the park is a very large cage that is filled with trees and birds of various species. People can walk on the wooden platform in the cage above ground level. It is considered to be a world-class aviary due to its size and the variety of bird species. It is free to enter.
There are many other attractions for visitors nearby. The Zoological and Botanical Gardens is a free small zoo and botanical garden that features a large collection of primates of many species. It is just to the west of Hong Kong Park. Hong Kong Park is close to the Peak Tram that goes up to the top of Victoria Peak. The tram gives a good view of a part of Hong Kong and the bay.
Getting to Hong Kong Park is a little tricky if you are not familiar with the area. Take the bus or the MTR to Admiralty Station. Exit at Exit C1 and go to 2 Pacific Place at 88 Queensway Drive and take the escalator to the front gate of the park. At the front gate, go left past a tall clock that keeps accurate time.
- Address: Hong Kong Park, 10 Cotton Tree Drive, Central, Hong Kong Island.
- Bus: No. 3B, 12, 12A, 23, 23B, 40, 103.
- Escalator: The escalator up from Queensway Road starts at the corner of 2 Pacific Place at 88 Queensway Drive. It goes up about 100 meters or so.
- MTR: Admiralty MTR Station. Exit at Exit C1. Go to 88 Queensway Drive to the escalator.
- Open: 10 am to 5 pm daily except on Tuesday. Closed on Tuesdays and the following public holidays: Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day and the first three days of the Chinese New Year.
- Photography: Permitted.
- Admission: Free.
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I updated this article on March 17, 2013
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