House of Stories at Wah Fu Estate:
A Pilot Project on Setting up a “Community Museum” (ComMuse)
In view of the urgency to preserve the memory of Wah Fu Estate, a temporary “community museum” (ComMuse) was set up at the Estate to help evaluate the feasibility of establishing a permanent museum facility for the community at the redeveloped Wah Fu Estate in the future.
This collaborative project between the staff members and students of HKU, the residents and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) of Wah Fu Estate called for the sharing of personal and family items related to the residents’ living heritage and collective memories at Wah Fu Estate. With the venue support from the Housing Department, the project investigator and student research assistants set up a booth, a temporary ComMuse, at the podium of Wah Fu (I) Shopping Centre in June 2019 to promote the project, to chat with residents about their living heritage and memories, and to take photographs of the items that the residents shared.
At ComMuse, objects like home items, rental contracts, school certificates, personal photographs and old furniture were welcomed to be shared. The project team also collected the stories beyond these items by in-depth interviews. We listened to the stories of the residents, and summarised how these will help record their memories of living at Wah Fu Estate. At the same time, the community was informed about the latest updates of the redevelopment plan at Wah Fu Estate.
HKU students from Department of Sociology, Division of Landscape Architecture and Division of Architectural Conservation Programmes were recruited and trained to execute and reflect on the fieldwork at Wah Fu Estate. The project was carried out in cooperation with community partners, including The Wah Fu Swatow Christian Church, Wah Fu Estate Credit Union, EDGE Book, The Conservancy Association Centre for Heritage (CACHe) and Walk In Hong Kong. This project also aimed to combine the pedagogies of sociology, environmental design, and heritage conservation to protect and sustain the residents’ living heritage and collective memories.
Through this temporary ComMuse, the communications and the cooperation of various stakeholders, this project intended a non-partisan, community-wide and socially inclusive cooperation at a local community in Hong Kong. The project outcome was shared with the Housing Department of the HKSARG. In the long run, the project team hopes to establish a permanent community museum after Wah Fu Estate redevelops.
The community’s personal heritage collections showcase the tangible and intangible living cultural heritage of Wah Fu Estate. The photographs of the items and the residents’ stories are now exhibited at this website: https://wahfucommuse.wixsite.com/commuse