An online exhibit and documentary charts the history of the creation of this urban landscape.
M+, Hong Kong’s museum for visual culture, has launched an interactive online exhibit called NEONSIGNS.HK, which aims to map out and document the story of the rise and fall of the neon sign industry in Hong Kong.
The neon sign industry was especially popular in the 80s and 90s, but the introduction of LED lights has affected the livelihood of the neon sign craftsmen, and neon signs are disappearing.
M+ architecture and design curator Aric Chen said, “These signs are starting to disappear quickly, and as the saying goes, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. What we can do is help people appreciate the value of neon signs.”
According to a blog post on WSJ Asia, it was the cow-shaped Sammy’s Kitchen neon sign on Queen’s Road West that prompted the creation of NEONSIGNS.HK. The sign has been there since 1977, but its removal was ordered by the government’s Building Department last year.
NEONSIGNS.HK is the seventh in the Mobile M+ exhibition series and people are invited to submit their own photos and stories of their favorite neon signs to the Neon Map. People can add their favorite neon signs via Intagram using the hashtag #HKNEON or via the project website.
Through June 30th, the project website will be continuously updated with new content that includes images, videos, essays, specially-commissioned projects, and information about offline tours, talks and workshops designed to help people rediscover and understand neon signs, which are considered main features of the city’s streetscapes.
Watch a short film about the exhibit below.