Museum is not necessarily a white cube illuminated by solemn lighting, guarded by security and cordons. The stories behind a museum object can perhaps fill up more than a caption card. The best museum is on the street, where real local people can proudly tell us stories about their livelihood.

Street as Museum is a tour series of living museums. The visitors were guided by experienced locals through tours of different themes. Accompanied by cultural experts, they heard stories and visited places normally not available to non-locals.

2005 Streets of Wanchai

Street as Museum, jointly organized by The AiR Association, Community Museum Project and St James’ Settlement, is a tour series of living museums. Experienced locals guided us through tours of different themes, such as “Shop-wise”, “Ghosts in the City”, “Beyond Suzie Wong” and “Survivor Wanchai”. Visitors, accompanied by cultural experts, heard stories and visited places normally not available to non-locals.

The project is a special programme of Re:Wanchai – Hong Kong International Artists’ Workshop 2005.

Themes of Tours
There are a wide variety of shops in old Wanchai. A casual inspection will find shops under the staircases, “one-dimensional” shops (shops operating against a wall), and the green tin huts. Operating under limited space and resources, these shops display great versatility. The tour is a systematic search for indigenous wisdom hidden in Wanchai’s big streets and small alleys.

Tour guides: May (Wanchai resident); Siu King-chung (Member of Community Museum Project)

Ghost in the City
Ghost stories may sound superstitious. Yet they cast their impact on the outlook of our city. Did you ever wonder why a small basketball field, instead of a high-rise building, was built in a prime spot of the city? Believe it or not, urban myths have laid their invisible hand on our urban planning. The tour tries to locate these ghost stories in urban development, and vice versa.

Tour guides: Wong Siu-ping (Wanchai resident); Mak Tak-ching (Cultural worker); Tse Pak-chai (Member of Community Museum Project)

Survivor: Wanchai
There is no shortage of local industries in Wanchai – picking bean sprouts, hardware and shoe repairing, just to name a few. Some of them have already disappeared, some are close to vanish and some still flourishing. The grass-roots business has been closely related to the daily life of Hong Kong people. The tour will cover various types of shops while the visitors can hear from the shop-owners their first-hand accounts of survival.

Tour guides: Chue (Wanchai resident); Cally Yu (Freelance Writer)

Beyond Suzie Wong
The sex industry may not be desirable to most people. Yet, admittedly, it is the first one to flourish when a city’s economy goes well. Furthermore, sex industry as a force behind other “regular” and peripheral businesses seems very much underestimated. How are able to understand the development of business like tailoring, restaurants and real estates from that of night clubs, saunas and “one floor one” (self-employed sex workers)? This tour is not a voyeuristic view into the sex industry, but a rediscovery of an overlooked link in Wanchai’s economic development.

Tour guides: Terence Chan (Wanchai resident); Ho Kowk-leung (Cultural Worker)

Every Street Tells a Story
To Hong Kong people, a lot of lives happen on the street, from shopping for pleasure to protest against pressure. But how much do we know the streets we pass by every day?

This street-walking tour will go deeply into the something that apparently mundane. The thematic streets, the names and nameplates of the streets, the buildings in Wanchai – all contain stories, myths and histories about how Wanchai comes to its being.

Tour guide: Ming (Wanchai Resident and cultural worker)