Mathilde HK at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum

You always dreamed about traveling on the glamorous liners ?
You are curious about the interior decoration and lifestyle they displayed during the 1930s?
French Cruise lines, such as the Normandie or the France, are familiar to you?

The French May festival launched an exhibition at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum:’Palaces on the Seas:the Golden Age of French Ocean Liners”‘. I visited the exhibition, which features posters, pictures, drawings, tickets, uniforms, suitcases and decorative objects, from two major French cruise lines: La Compagnie Générale Transatlantique and Les Messageries Maritimes. During the 1930s, the line Paris-Hong Kong launched a departure to France every two weeks. The connection was capital for French commercial activities.
In order to learn more, I also attended a lecture on ‘The Messageries Maritimes in Hong Kong, 1918-1940’. The talk was given by Francois Dremeaux, already famous for his studies and publications on the History of French people in Hong Kong. The Museum is giving free talks, either in Cantonese or in English, with topics that are always mixing local stories with History.

I was aware of that new exhibition thanks to the French May team. It actually reminded me of a former exhibition sponsored in Paris by the Musee National de la Marine: Paquebot France, in 2011.

My favorite space:

Not only is the museum team ready to give your children a nice tour with costumes and jeu de roles, but they also provide you with a deck and a game which was very popular on board: le Palet. Although the rules are not familiar to us anymore, I thought it was very detailed and hands-on to recreate such a game inside the exhibition.


Poster, Messageries Maritimes, Japon Extreme-Orient, Georges Taboureau, 1920

My favorite objects:

The French Liners to Asia, designed by the Messageries Maritimes, were extremely luxurious. The ships of the 1930s had refined names such as: Atos, Portos, Aramis, or Chambord, Chenonceau… and were well furnished. Tableware was made of Porcelain and Crystal. The best French manufactures were in charge of creating a special tableware, a showcase for French gastronomy. Haviland-Limoges, which made the porcelain for the famous France, was also producing the fine white dishes for the Messageries Maritimes, while Daum was manufacturing the glasses for the ships. The Silversmith was very ‘Bauhaus like’ and stamped by Ercuis and Christofle. All the artifacts were stamped with an anchor and an unicorn, symbols of the Messageries Maritimes since its creation in 1796.


Fist-class diner table from The Normandie, ‘Atlas’ and ‘Transat’ silver-plated tableware by Christofle, picture@mathildeHK

Topics and Keywords:

Solo: topics to focus on in that exhibition
Decorative Arts, Posters, Maritime Objects, Memorabilia, Tableware, Lifestyle, Sketches, Models boat.

Combo: On the same topic

‘Palaces on the Seas: the Golden Age of French Ocean Liners’ – Hong Kong Maritime Museum
28 May to 26 August 2014
Ticket: 30 HKD


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