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The Official Website of
Sarawak Museum Department
Museums of WonderMuseums of Wonder
Museums offer visitors window into the history, culture and way of life of people in a place. Traditionally, it plays a role in acquiring, conserving, communicating and exhibiting artifacts from the past. For those who has never zero knowledge on the place their visiting, museum is a place where one clears their concerns and questions about one’s customs and way of life in that geographical location. Besides, museums give a glimpse into the lives of our ancestors, and serves as civic spaces that helps current generation address present societal issues from lessons of the past. Indeed, having a place that keeps references of the past is crucial in shaping a better society.
Kuching is a hub full of Borneoan heritage and history. It is not a surprise to see the capital trailed with a variety of museums. Putting Sarawak on the map currently is the Borneo Cultures Museum located opposite the Sarawak Old Museum (ethnology museum) by the footbridge.
Old Museum
(Ethnology Museum)
Being the oldest museum in Sarawak and among the oldest in South East Asia, the old museum conserve and houses artefacts related to ethnology field that focusses on people and cultures. Located on Tun Abang Haji Openg road, The Sarawak Museum Old Building has one of the best collections in Southeast Asia. This museum goes a long way back. Initially it was built in 1889 but was declared open by the Second Rajah Sir Charles Brooke on 14th August 1891.
The Ethnology Museum was also built solely by the encouragement of the famous naturalist Alfred Wallace who was already collecting specimens from all over Sarawak. He then needed a place to house his collections of animals and display of local arts and crafts. Ever since then, this building has been displaying ethnology items, handicrafts and zoological specimens. In 1911, extension works was carried out whereby the brick steps at the front portion of the building were removed.
During the Japanese occupation from 1941 till 1945, the museum was taken care at a great amount that it suffered very little damage and looting, thanks to a sympathetic Japanese officer.  Although it has undergone several phases of renovations and warfare, the museum still retains its original yet classic structure of a Normandy town-house style European architecture with imposed edifices inspired by Queen Anne style architecture that was popular in the last quarter of 19th century and early decades of 20th century. Its entrance, adorned by two colonial cannons is a favourite photo spot amongst visitors.
An ethnology museum is crucial because it portrays the way of life and customs of specific tribes in the olden days through weapons, houses, textile embroidery and native murals. From ancient Sarawak to British colonisation era, ethnology Museum serves as a reference of the past. Currently undergoing refurbishment works, previous displays saw skulls hanging on the ceilings of Iban longhouse models that were made of wood and bamboo. The sight of these hanging  skulls tell the story of how much enemies have been killed and the Iban’s headhunting rituals in past warfare. There was also a fossil display of Tom Harisson’s discovery of human habitation in Niah that dates back to 40,000 years ago.
 
Besides ethnology, this museum also featured zoological specimens found in Sarawak. Animal skeletons, shells and replica of taxidermy animals were displayed in airtight glass casings. Almost life-like, rare and extinct wildlife includes lizards, different species of hornbills, leopards and wild cats. Honestly, nothing can compare seeing these taxidermy animals in person rather than seeing them in a page of a book or on the screens of smartphones. In mean time whereby refurbishment works is currently taking place, the public can observe these zoological specimens at the Natural History building adjacent to the Ethnology building.
 
Next to the ethnology museum is an outdoor aquarium that has existed since 1965. Also currently undergoing renovation, the aquarium will be expanded to showcase the different aquatic species, mostly turtles and fishes in Sarawak. This aquarium is a favourite place to visit amongst the locals and tourists, so expect a bigger version of it to be opened soon.
 
If you happened to be in the area, walk up the stairs of the fountain situated in the garden to see the Heroes’ Monument, a memorial of fallen heroes in Sarawak’s past wars including World War II. On the monument you will be able to see plaques of the fallen heroes notably Datuk Merpati Jepang, Sharip Masahor, Pehin Orang Kaya Setia Raja Abang Manai, Rentap, Sawing, Liu Shan Bang, Datuk Patinggi Ali dan Rosli Dhobi.
Going through an overhaul until February 2021, the  Ethnology museum is reconfiguring its new storyline, which will feature a thematic approach that lets visitors explore through content digital experience. In the mean time of its preparation, the New Museum (Borneo Cultures Museum) across the pedestrian footbridge link from Ethnology Museum is set to open doors for the public on December 2020.
As the museum’s role has developed, its function too has diversified. Long gone are the days where museums were just 100 percent display of artefacts. 30 percent of  the museum will feature interactive contents whereas the rest 70 percent will feature traditional exhibitions. Expect exhibitions to be related to rich cultural diversity and historical heritage of various ethnic groups in Sarawak.
Borneo Cultures Museum (The New Museum), Kuching
 
New Museum
(Borneo Cultures Museum)
After four years in the works, Borneo Cultures Museum is the newest landmark and cultural institution that will be the pride of Sarawak. Worth RM308million, this project was led by Dato Sri Ar John Lau Kah Sieng, Sarawak’s first and renowned architect who has undertaken major projects in Africa, Hong Kong, China, United Arab Emirates and Singapore. With that list of achievements, it is no surprise that one feels mesmerised just by looking at its sheer and stunning golden structure. With a combined total floor of approximately 31,000 square metres, it is the second largest museum in Southeast Asia. Plus, this world- class museum aims to be the main centre for Borneo Heritage Collection by 2030.
A familiar structure that Borneo Cultures Museum has is its distinct golden arched roof, which complements the architecture of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly (DUN) building across the Sarawak River. There is also a presence of historical and cultural influences incorporated in the architecture of the museum. The silhouetted panels stacked onto one another is inspired by Sarawak’s traditional motifs of woven rattan mats and songket. Meanwhile, the panel wall claddings are designed in abstract reinterpretation of Sarawak’s weavings that simultaneously refers to museum’s role as the state’s cultural heritage guardian. In the centre of the elevation, glass panels forming the façade allow natural daylight to penetrate into the indoor gallery spaces and brighten up public circulation areas.
Conscious efforts were made to maintain the surrounding greenery and minimise the carbon footprint produced following the abolishment of Dewan Tun Abdul Razak building in exchange for the establishment of Borneo Cultures Museum. Only green building materials and used wood products that is certified according to Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) were used for the interior wall panels and flooring, making it Green Building Index (GBI) certified. This world-class institution has done its part when it comes to sustainable and environmental concerns on Mother Nature.
 
Borneo Cultures Museum will consist of two main components, which are the main building (Borneo Cultures Museum) and the Annex building for conservation efforts and museum offices. Both parts will be equipped with state-of-the-art facilities for exhibition and conservation efforts. This is to ensure the wide array of collections is safely secured, preserved, documented and exhibited according to the latest standards of International Council of Museums.
 
In the technology era, museums too have evolved whereby digital elements are installed for a better engagement and understanding with elements of the past. Recently, Sarawak state has dedicated RM15million to equip the museum with digital facilities and technologies for an enhanced visitors’ experience. Visitors will get to engage with intangible cultural heritage through digital facilities Other facilities include ramps, conservation laboratory, tactile maps, and toilets for the disabled, making it a practical and suitable place for all walks of life.
Altogether there are five levels of gallery and exhibition spaces, whereby each level consist of its own story line, that features installations based on a thematic approach. Level 1 houses commercial lots, a café, function rooms, auditorium spaces that will support and complement temporary exhibition gallery taking place time to time. Level 2 houses the Children’s Wing, and an Arts and Crafts gallery. Level 3 till 5 consist of exhibition gallery spaces, whereby both wings are flanked with individual central atrium. Three galleries to look out for when the museum opens will be based on themes such as ‘In Harmony with Nature’, ‘Objects of Desire’ and ‘Settlements and Urbanisation’. With a total of 6,726 square metres exhibition space, it would take days to see everything in Borneo Cultures Museum as each level are best explored separately according to one’s interest and preference.
Borneo Cultures Museum will also have activities that encourage hands-on participation and interactive educational programmes suitable for students to experience learning beyond the classroom. It is also a learning institution whereby scholars from all around the world can collaborate with local curators in documenting the material knowledge of Borneo’s rich past in terms of cultures, peoples and nature. Truly, the moment visitors walk out of Borneo Cultures Museum, they will not only have a good time but also gain a profound sense of appreciation for various tribes and cultures in Borneo.
No doubt that Borneo Cultures Museum is a world-class repository of irreplaceable collections, as well  as a centre for both Sarawak and Borneoan heritage. This bespoke museum exudes the state’s identity and pride. Undeniably, this state-of-the-art museum is the place to be for history buffs, cultural practitioner, artists and visitors seeking to learn more about the people, cultures and heritage of Sarawak and Borneo. Enter into Borneo Cultures Museum full of curiousity, and step out well-informed and enlightened about the peoples and cultures in Sarawak and Borneo before you further your adventure in the Borneo.
BorneoTalkJan-Mar2020(Vol.55 Page 28-31) 
Original article : https://www.borneotalk.com/e-magazine/

Museums offer visitors window into the history, culture and way of life of people in a place. Traditionally, it plays a role in acquiring, conserving, communicating and exhibiting artifacts from the past. For those who has zero knowledge on the place their visiting, museum is a place where one clears their concerns and questions about one’s customs and way of life in that geographical location. Besides, museums give a glimpse into the lives of our ancestors, and serves as civic spaces that helps current generation address present societal issues from lessons of the past. Indeed, having a place that keeps references of the past is crucial in shaping a better society.

 

Kuching is a hub full of Borneoan heritage and history. It is not a surprise to see the capital trailed with a variety of museums. Putting Sarawak on the map currently is the Borneo Cultures Museum located opposite the Sarawak Old Museum (ethnology museum) by the footbridge.



 

Old Museum

(Ethnology Museum)

 

Being the oldest museum in Sarawak and among the oldest in South East Asia, the old museum conserve and houses artefacts related to ethnology field that focusses on people and cultures. Located on Tun Abang Haji Openg road, The Sarawak Museum Old Building has one of the best collections in Southeast Asia. This museum goes a long way back. Initially it was built in 1889 but was declared open by the Second Rajah Sir Charles Brooke on 14th August 1891.



 

The Ethnology Museum was also built solely by the encouragement of the famous naturalist Alfred Wallace who was already collecting specimens from all over Sarawak. He then needed a place to house his collections of animals and display of local arts and crafts. Ever since then, this building has been displaying ethnology items, handicrafts and zoological specimens. In 1911, extension works was carried out whereby the brick steps at the front portion of the building were removed.

 

During the Japanese occupation from 1941 till 1945, the museum was taken care at a great amount that it suffered very little damage and looting, thanks to a sympathetic Japanese officer.  Although it has undergone several phases of renovations and warfare, the museum still retains its original yet classic structure of a Normandy town-house style European architecture with imposed edifices inspired by Queen Anne style architecture that was popular in the last quarter of 19th century and early decades of 20th century. Its entrance, adorned by two colonial cannons is a favourite photo spot amongst visitors.


From ancient Sarawak to British colonisation era, ethnology Museum serves as a reference of the past. 

 

An ethnology museum is crucial because it portrays the way of life and customs of specific tribes in the olden days through weapons, houses, textile embroidery and native murals. From ancient Sarawak to British colonisation era, ethnology Museum serves as a reference of the past. Currently undergoing refurbishment works, previous displays saw skulls hanging on the ceilings of Iban longhouse models that were made of wood and bamboo. The sight of these hanging  skulls tell the story of how much enemies have been killed and the Iban’s headhunting rituals in past warfare. There was also a fossil display of Tom Harisson’s discovery of human habitation in Niah that dates back to 40,000 years ago.

 

Besides ethnology, this museum also featured zoological specimens found in Sarawak. Animal skeletons, shells and replica of taxidermy animals were displayed in airtight glass casings. Almost life-like, rare and extinct wildlife includes lizards, different species of hornbills, leopards and wild cats. Honestly, nothing can compare seeing these taxidermy animals in person rather than seeing them in a page of a book or on the screens of smartphones. In the mean time whereby refurbishment works is currently taking place, the public can observe these zoological specimens at the Natural History building adjacent to the Ethnology building.

 

Next to the ethnology museum is an outdoor aquarium that has existed since 1965. Also currently undergoing renovation, the aquarium will be expanded to showcase the different aquatic species, mostly turtles and fishes in Sarawak. This aquarium is a favourite place to visit amongst the locals and tourists, so expect a bigger version of it to be opened soon.

 

If you happened to be in the area, walk up the stairs of the fountain situated in the garden to see the Heroes’ Monument, a memorial of fallen heroes in Sarawak’s past wars including World War II. On the monument you will be able to see plaques of the fallen heroes notably Datuk Merpati Jepang, Sharip Masahor, Pehin Orang Kaya Setia Raja Abang Manai, Rentap, Sawing, Liu Shan Bang, Datuk Patinggi Ali dan Rosli Dhobi.

 

Going through an overhaul until February 2021, the  Ethnology museum is reconfiguring its new storyline, which will feature a thematic approach that lets visitors explore through content digital experience. In the mean time of its preparation, the New Museum (Borneo Cultures Museum) across the pedestrian footbridge link from Ethnology Museum is set to open doors for the public on December 2020.

 

As the museum’s role has developed, its function too has diversified. Long gone are the days where museums were just 100 percent display of artefacts. 30 percent of  the museum will feature interactive contents whereas the rest 70 percent will feature traditional exhibitions. Expect exhibitions to be related to rich cultural diversity and historical heritage of various ethnic groups in Sarawak.

 


Borneo Cultures Museum (The New Museum), Kuching

 

New Museum

(Borneo Cultures Museum)

 

After four years in the works, Borneo Cultures Museum is the newest landmark and cultural institution that will be the pride of Sarawak. Worth RM308million, this project was led by Dato Sri Ar John Lau Kah Sieng, Sarawak’s first and renowned architect who has undertaken major projects in Africa, Hong Kong, China, United Arab Emirates and Singapore. With that list of achievements, it is no surprise that one feels mesmerised just by looking at its sheer and stunning golden structure. With a combined total floor of approximately 31,000 square metres, it is the second largest museum in Southeast Asia. Plus, this world- class museum aims to be the main centre for Borneo Heritage Collection by 2030.

 

A familiar structure that Borneo Cultures Museum has is its distinct golden arched roof, which complements the architecture of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly (DUN) building across the Sarawak River. There is also a presence of historical and cultural influences incorporated in the architecture of the museum. The silhouetted panels stacked onto one another is inspired by Sarawak’s traditional motifs of woven rattan mats and songket. Meanwhile, the panel wall claddings are designed in abstract reinterpretation of Sarawak’s weavings that simultaneously refers to museum’s role as the state’s cultural heritage guardian. In the centre of the elevation, glass panels forming the façade allow natural daylight to penetrate into the indoor gallery spaces and brighten up public circulation areas.

 



Conscious efforts were made to maintain the surrounding greenery and minimise the carbon footprint produced following the abolishment of Dewan Tun Abdul Razak building in exchange for the establishment of Borneo Cultures Museum. Only green building materials and used wood products that is certified according to Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) were used for the interior wall panels and flooring, making it Green Building Index (GBI) certified. This world-class institution has done its part when it comes to sustainable and environmental concerns on Mother Nature.

 

Borneo Cultures Museum will consist of two main components, which are the main building (Borneo Cultures Museum) and the Annex building for conservation efforts and museum offices. Both parts will be equipped with state-of-the-art facilities for exhibition and conservation efforts. This is to ensure the wide array of collections is safely secured, preserved, documented and exhibited according to the latest standards of International Council of Museums.

 

In the technology era, museums too have evolved whereby digital elements are installed for a better engagement and understanding with elements of the past. Recently, Sarawak state has dedicated RM15million to equip the museum with digital facilities and technologies for an enhanced visitors’ experience. Visitors will get to engage with intangible cultural heritage through digital facilities. Other facilities include ramps, conservation laboratory, tactile maps, and toilets for the disabled, making it a practical and suitable place for all walks of life.

 



Altogether there are five levels of gallery and exhibition spaces, whereby each level consist of its own story line, that features installations based on a thematic approach. Level 1 houses commercial lots, a café, function rooms, auditorium spaces that will support and complement temporary exhibition gallery taking place time to time. Level 2 houses the Children’s Wing, and an Arts and Crafts gallery. Level 3 till 5 consist of exhibition gallery spaces, whereby both wings are flanked with individual central atrium. Three galleries to look out for when the museum opens will be based on themes such as ‘In Harmony with Nature’, ‘Objects of Desire’ and ‘Settlements and Urbanisation’. With a total of 6,726 square metres exhibition space, it would take days to see everything in Borneo Cultures Museum as each level are best explored separately according to one’s interest and preference.

 

Borneo Cultures Museum will also have activities that encourage hands-on participation and interactive educational programmes suitable for students to experience learning beyond the classroom. It is also a learning institution whereby scholars from all around the world can collaborate with local curators in documenting the material knowledge of Borneo’s rich past in terms of cultures, peoples and nature. 


Truly, the moment visitors walk out of Borneo Cultures Museum, they will not only have a good time but also gain a profound sense of appreciation for various tribes and cultures in Borneo.

 

No doubt that Borneo Cultures Museum is a world-class repository of irreplaceable collections, as well  as a centre for both Sarawak and Borneoan heritage. This bespoke museum exudes the state’s identity and pride. Undeniably, this state-of-the-art museum is the place to be for history buffs, cultural practitioner, artists and visitors seeking to learn more about the people, cultures and heritage of Sarawak and Borneo. Enter into Borneo Cultures Museum full of curiousity, and step out well-informed and enlightened about the peoples and cultures in Sarawak and Borneo before you further your adventure in the Borneo.

 

BorneoTalk Jan-Mar 2020 (Vol.55 Page 28-31) 

Original article : https://www.borneotalk.com/e-magazine/