Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences, China

The Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences (HKMMS Chinese: 香港醫學博物館) was established in 1996, and is located in a renovated 3-story Edwardian-style building, at 2 Caine Lane at the Mid-levels, Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong. It is also referred to as Old Pathological Institute.

The aim of the museum is to promote the collection and preservation of materials of historical interest relating to the development of the medical industry in Hong Kong. On occasion, some exhibitions are held by the museum, in order to present basic and advanced medical information and news. One of its major goals is to help raise public interest in the medical history of Hong Kong and teach them more about health and diseases.

The Mission of the Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences is to provide a stimulating environment for public education on health and medical sciences, past, present and future; for local and overseas visitors to appreciate aspects of Hong Kong’s rich medical heritage, including Traditional Chinese Medicine as well as Western Scientific Medicine; to be a centre for research in medical history and for preservation and display of objects relating to the development of medical and health sciences in Hong Kong.

Its Vision is to become an outstanding institution amongst museums in Hong Kong and similar museums internationally, where lessons from history and lessons for health are skilfully presented in an integrated fashion, at a site where Hong Kong’s historical fight against infectious disease actually took place, and in collaboration with other organizations, to provide first-class educational and cultural activities to persons of all ages, so that they can learn to stay healthy and be inspired to face the challenges of the future.

The Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences (HKMMS) was officially opened in 1996 in a declared public monument, the Old Pathological Institute on Caine Lane, Mid-Levels Hong Kong. It is the only medical museum in Hong Kong with a mission of providing a stimulating environment for promoting education for all in health and medical sciences, past, present and future. The Museum is community-based and independent of government administration. It is managed by a non-profit charitable organization, the Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences Society.

The Museum currently houses a series of long-standing exhibitions covering significant events and key institutions related to the medical history of Hong Kong, including the Hong Kong 1894 plague epidemic and the SARS outbreak of 2003. Comparison between Western and Traditional Chinese medicine is another major theme.

The building that would later become Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences was built in 1906. It was designed as a Bacteriological Institute, and renamed to Pathological institute after World II. The building was designed by Leigh & Orange.

Being the first laboratory of bacteriology in Hong Kong, it was constructed of red bricks and consisted of three blocks. The main block is a two-storey building with a basement. The second one was used as a dormitory and the third for keeping animals. In 1972, the institute was relocated to Victoria Road and the building was then used as a storeroom for Pathology Service for the Health Department.

The building was declared a monument in 1990. In 1995, it was handed over to the Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences Society and converted to a museum for the public.

The Museum building started life as the Bacteriological Institute, Hong Kong’s first purpose-built public health and clinical laboratory. Situated in the historic Chinese residential district of Tai Ping Shan, it was built in response to the 1894 Plague outbreak and opened in 1906. In addition to its work in the surveillance and control of Plague and other infectious diseases, it also produced vaccines and provided diagnostic tests.

Originally, there was the main building and two subsidiary blocks: one designed to accommodate the attendants (now the Museum Annex), and the other a laboratory animals house containing stables (demolished in the 1980s).

With time, the role of the Institute changed as did its name, becoming the Pathological Institute after World War II. It continued to be used as a laboratory until the 1950s and as a vaccine production centre until the 1970s.

In 1990, the Government declared the site a Monument, and it became known as the Old Pathological Institute. The Hong Kong College of Pathologists, recognising the potential of the building, and that it was important for the public to be aware of the history and development in this region, petitioned the Government for its use as a museum. Despite competing claims, the bid was successful. In 1996, the Monument was revitalized as The Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences.

Other than the necessary repairs, the Museum retains the Monument’s original external and internal features, and is acknowledged as an excellent example of built-heritage conservation.

It is a three-tier building occupying 10,000 square feet (930 m²) and it consists of 11 exhibition galleries including a gallery for Tai Ping Shan View, a game room, a library and the Gordon King Lecture Theatre.

The galleries include:

Lui Hac Minh Gallery
Hong Kong Tuberculosis, Chest and Heart Diseases Association Gallery
Hong Kong College of Radiologists

HKMMS Society:
The Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences Society was incorporated in May 1995 to establish and operate the Museum. It is a charitable non-profit organization, without regular financial support from government, universities or other institutions.

The objectives of the HKMMS Society are:
• To establish and promote the Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences and to collect and preserve materials of historical interest relating to the development of medical sciences in Hong Kong
• To promote research and public interest in health matters, the development of medicine in Hong Kong and neighbouring regions, and the interaction between scientific and traditional medicine
• To promote cooperation between the Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences and local or international institutions with similar objectives

The aim of the museum is to exhibit and educate the public about Hong Kong’s medical history as well as to preserve historical medical materials relating to the local development of medicine. Occasionally, special activities are held by the museum to inform the public about medical information and news. Publications and leaflets are also distributed to the public occasionally so as to help arouse the interest of the public in the medical history of Hong Kong and increase their knowledge and understanding of health and diseases.