February 10, 2005
The Sarawak Museum (they call this the old building as there are two "Sarawak Museums") is a well put together and interesting place. It is housed in a Victorian-style building that was built in 1891. The building itself shows the history and influence that the English once had in this area. An interesting note - this building has always been a museum housing local arts and crafts, even during the Japanese occupation in WWII it managed to stay a museum.
The museum itself couldn’t be located any better. It is within a RM2 cab ride of most major hotels and 5-minute walk to the Merdeka Palace, one of the nicest hotels in town. The place is very easy to spot, as it is well-placed on a small hill and without large buildings surrounding it. The museum itself is surrounded by some beautiful and well-maintained gardens, which are an attraction themselves.
You will find the inside of the museum packed with native arts and crafts from all time periods. On some special occasions they will even have exhibits from other areas on display. One area that I found most fascinating was the area with the photos from the past showing how many of the tribes lived and realizing it wasn’t that long ago. There were reports of some isolated tribes practicing headhunting even into the 1950s.
The museum walls themselves are often decorated with murals and native designs. You will see many displays of traditional weapons, tools, clothes, and dioramas of living spaces. You can walk through a recreation of an Iban longhouse complete with human skulls hanging from the ceiling.
While the museum itself isn’t huge, only two floors, it is fairly packed with displays. There is more than enough to keep you busy here for at least 1 hour but not so long as to bore you. There is plenty for kids to see and lots to keep adults interested. The great thing is that admission is FREE! They open everyday at 9am and close at 6 pm. Cameras are not allowed, so take that into consideration. I didn’t realize this and got reprimanded for taking a photo of a mural (photo below). The gardens around the museum are open all the time and can make for a nice walk at night, as they are quite pretty.
You can find their excellent website here.
There are even panoramic views of the museums.
From journal Kuching, Malaysia: Paradise Found