The Museum of Macau is based in the Fortress of Macau and shows the way of life and cultures of the various communities that have been inhabited the city for ages. It might be a bit of a walk to get there (especially through the tourist crowds at the St. Paul’s ruins) but it is very much worth it.
Our kids love the reconstruction of a street in Macau, showing different house types from the different years on the first floor. Behind this street is a small recreation of the Macau harbour with a movie about the house boats and people living on them many years ago – even with no English voiceover (at least when we watched it) the kids were fascinated by it.
After climbing the steps to the second floor (or if you have a stroller you can use the lift)the popular art and traditions of Macau are explained. There is a section where old shops have been set up, and you can either press a button or lift a headset to hear people talking as if they were buying goods or selling hawker items on the street.
Around the corner, where wedding traditions and customs are explained, my kids love a set-up of a table filled with (plastic) delicacies to demonstrate what a feast would have be served on a special day. Then there are videos and examples of tradition toys kids used to play with, the songs and music of religious ceremonies and traditional festivals – and in general there are a lot of buttons to push, so the smaller visitors were really occupied.
The second floor section that fascinates me the most is dedicated to fireworks! Did you know that the firecracker industry used to be really big in Macau? Macau does not have many natural resources, but it had skilled and cheap labour which resulted in a large firecracker industry in the 50s and 60s. At its height, Macau boasted seven such factories and top in terms of local employment. ‘Fabrico en Macao’ miniature explosives soon became the must-have ingredients for all Chinese festivals world-over. Unfortunately, not much of this proud Macau heritage remains today. The industry began to take a backseat in the 80s when labourers were drawn to better paid jobs and the safer working environment in the textile and toy making industries. China has become the new powerhouse for the firecracker industry.
The third floor is dedicated to special exhibitions – so this changes regularly. During our last visit, there was a whole corner for kids to do puzzles, create artwork with stamps and crayons and try on some costumes. Again, it was very fun and occupied us all.
To exit the museum, you have to leave the building on the third floor. I know this is a bit weird, but remember, you are up on a hill. So once you leave, you will reach a viewing platform with 360 views around Macau, which can be really lovely on clear blue sky day…
Museum of Macau
112 Praceta do Museu de Macau (Mount Fortress)
10 am to 6pm
Closed on Mondays