Saturday, June 25, 2011

Card(s) (This week's Photo Hunt theme)

What would a museum be without label cards? A not very informative one is my feeling. So imagine my frustration when I visited the Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences some years back before I moved to Asia's World City based on a Frommer's guide recommendation, only to find its prized display of a traditional Chinese herbalist's shop (see the second photo from the top in this Photo Hunt entry) to be sans English language information on its label cards.

Happily, when I returned to make only my second visit to the museum last Saturday, I found the situation to have been remedied. Something else that I was happy to discover is that there are much easier ways to get to this Mid-Levels museum than up the multi-stepped Ladder Street from Hollywood Road (the approach this then tourist thought looked easiest when looking at the tourist maps she relied upon at the time).

On a more purely museological note: the actual museological institution itself looks to have only permanent exhibitions rather than any rotating/temporary/special exhibitions. However, part of its premises (which lies within the building that previously housed the Old Bacteriological Institute that was the first purpose-built medical laboratory in Hong Kong and later renamed as the Pathological Institute) have been used in recent years as venues for temporary exhibitions by Big Lychee-based artists including American Charles LaBelle and Briton Simon Birch.

I hope that this practice will continue because it gives people (like me) a reason to make return visits to the museum -- or want to go to it at all. And what's a museum without visitors? A pretty dead place, I'd imagine!


Luna Miranda said...

one of the difficulties when i traveled to China almost a decade ago was menus without English translation. i relied on the photos and it was a disaster most of the time.:p

sad to say, i've never been to a museum in HK. as far as i know, museum here e.g. Metropolitan Museum of Manila and the Ayala Museum, have permanent exhibits as well as seasonal exhibits. the latter attracts traffic.

Re your comment, yes i worked for Hallmark in Manila for almost 8 years. it was a great company to work for...learned a lot during my stay.:p

magiceye said...

lovely takes on the theme

Anonymous said...

Oh that would be terrible for non Chinese reading and speaking visitors if there is no translation. Glad that the situation got remedied. No this is not stretching it either.

Sue St Clair said...

We went with similar ideas on the theme this week :)

I like it when museums set up temporary exhibits too or bring in time limited special collections. It is a good reason for people to make more than one visit, :)

jmb said...

Good choice of photos for the theme YTSL. I love museums and one of my sorrows is that I can't read the cards now if they are in a glass case. I need to be closer and bump my nose on the glass when I try. LOL.

I would love that museum, being a retired modern day herbalist or pharmacist.

Have a good weekend YTSL.

YTSL said...

Hi Luna Miranda --

There are lots of restaurants in Hong Kong with no English on their menus too. Fortunately, there also are lots that do have English on their menu. Even more fortunately, I've learnt some Cantonese for when the former is the case. So know how to do such as order various kind of roast meat and noodle dishes now. :b

Re museums in Hong Kong: the big ones are really nice -- and do have English language labels. Recommend them for a nice visit -- especially on super hot or rainy days. :)

Hi magiceye --

Thanks. :)

Hi ewok1993 --

The frustrating thing previously was that the exhibitions on Western medicine had English language labels -- it was "just" the Chinese herbalist section that didn't! ;O

Hi Sue --

Exactly re temporary and/or special exhibitions in museums! :b

Hi jmb --

Uh oh... sounds like you need reading glasses!! ;D

Re medical/pharmacy museums: there's one inside the castle at Heidelberg too, BTW. :)

EastCoastLife said...

Being bilingual in English and Chinese, I have no major problems communicating with locals in Asia and Western countries. :)

Reading your interesting and informative posts on the museums in HK, I would have to allocate time to visit them when I next visit to see for myself.

Anonymous said...

WOW - I should have visited the sites of photo hunters before spending all that time trying to think about what I'd post - this is a great idea for this week's theme.

I admit that when I'm in a museum or gallery I always read the information - while I'm a fast reader I think it still annoys those who just want to race through.

Have a good weekend.

Sandy said...

Great picture of that building.
Mine's up, too

Trekcapri said...

Hi YTSL, great photos and a unique and creative take on the theme. I enjoy visiting all kinds of museums. On all my trips I try to visit at least 2 maybe three if I can. Very enjoyable and a great learning experience. Hope to visit the big Lychee one day.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Shoshana said...

I love buying it and love reading it.

Carver said...

Great post. This was very interesting. It is so much more rewarding to have information in museums that can be read and understood.

Colin Campbell said...

My biggest challenge with language was things like restaurant menus in China, Korea, Japan and the like. Usually did alright.

Interesting angle on cards.

YTSL said...

Hi EastCoastLife --

Lucky you for being able to read English and Chinese (as well as speak English and presumably Mandarin)! Me... I can deal with romanised script but when that's not around, it IS hard! ;S

And re museums: yes, do make some time to check at least one of them out the next time you visit Hong Kong. :)

Hi JDeQ --

I tend to read pretty much all the labels in history and associated museums. Re art museums: I try to focus on the works -- and if I like them, I look for more info re them. :)

Hi Sandy --

Hope you like the interior shots as well as the photo of the exterior. :)

Hi Trekcapri --

Wow, you sound like even more of a museum person than me. I try to visit at least one museum in whatever city/country I go to... though it's true enough that I do often end up visiting more than one in a place! ;b

Hi Shoshana --

I think it depends for me on what kind of cards they are... ;)

Hi Carver --

My feeling is that most of us need help (in terms of information via words) to better appreciate a lot of items of display in museum. Hence the need for label cards and other interpretive devices.

Hi Colin --

Through the years, I've learnt quite a bit of Japanese food vocabulary thanks to my love of Japanese food. Ditto re Korean food but with Chinese food, I definitely need to learn many more words before I'll be satisfied! ;S

Mar said...

I always need all the information I can get!! I wasn't blogging but I was online ;)
Happy weekend!

Life Ramblings said...

i've always enjoyed visiting museums and galleries but haven't been to one in HK. interesting take on the theme.

I've been cooped up in work and didn't have time to find photos to play along this week. thanks for checking out my blog. happy weekend.

sbk said...

hi ytsl,

Very nice photos of the museum.

I remember when I visited several years ago I too was surprised at the lack of English signs in the traditional herbalist's shop. This was because the other museums I'd visited had English signs and I thought as a former British colony maybe there would be English signs.

I would have been surprised and happy had I been on the Mainland and found English signs as I wouldn't expect them there.

peppylady (Dora) said...

I'm surprise on how well this theme is doing. I came up with different takes on “Card(s)” but I thought they where all lame.
The posting before this we went to park and lot of trees and plants could use some label cards but I believe because of economy one may not afford to do labels.
Coffee is on.

YTSL said...

Hi Mar --

Better to be informed than ignorant even though ignorance is supposed to be bliss, right? :b

Hi Life Ramblings --

Thanks for dropping by despite your not taking part in Photo Hunt this week. Appreciate the effort. :)

Hi sbk --

I think the thing with the Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences is that it's a private museum (one of the few that exist in Hong Kong) as opposed to a government one. The government ones, as you say, are well signed in English as well as Chinese -- even the smaller ones like the Police Museum and Sam Tung Uk Museum. :)

Hi peppylady --

Yeah, I think this is one of those Photo Hunt themes that got us thinking and inclined to be creative. :b