Pieces of Hong Kong's Past

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Their youthfulness as a society, sense of separateness from the rest of China, colonial history and disappointment at administrations that have failed to protect many structures of historical significance from the relentless march of development means that the people of Hong Kong are some of the most probing in the world when it comes to questions of cultural and personal identity. Issues of belonging are a theme of local art and letters to the point of tiresomeness, and barely a month goes by without an exhibition (or poetry reading or play) referencing some vanished heritage or collective memory. (See 10 things to do in Hong Kong.)

In this context, it is not surprising to see one of Hong Kong's foremost designers, Douglas Young, presenting his private collection of locally made 20th century consumer objects as museum-worthy artifacts. Located in Kowloon, the G.O.D. Street Culture Museum — named after Young's lifestyle and fashion brand — is not only a repository of items that have inspired Young's consummately Hong Kong sense of aesthetics, but an indication of what the city's people will preserve when so many of the larger conservation battles have been lost. Great Victorian edifices have been torn down and entire districts razed; in their place we have touching displays of children's toys, old phones and cameras, food and household-goods packaging, and a wall of old letterboxes. "It is ironic that disposable items are being kept in a museum," says Young, who argues that the products embody Hong Kong's historical can-do spirit and resourcefulness. "They should not be thrown away just because their function has expired." For information, call (852) 2778 3331.

See pictures of Hong Kong from 1997 - 2007.

See 10 things to do in Singapore.