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By Nur Ashikin Louis
KUCHING, March 4: The much-anticipated Borneo Cultures Museum (BCM) will enhance the image of Kuching and become a catalyst of its revitalisation, says Sarawak Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.
As the largest museum in Borneo and listed as the second largest in Southeast Asia, BCM represents Sarawak’s rich cultural, natural and historical heritage and their close relationship with local communities and global society.
“BCM has more than 6,000 square metres of exhibition space over four floors which showcases objects that tie into the natural history, archaeology and the cultures in Sarawak in a thematic manner together with a children’s gallery as well as arts and craft gallery.
“It comes with an adjoining annex building allocated for staff offices, collection storage area and laboratory. The combined total floor space is approximately 31,000 square metres,” he said when speaking at the opening ceremony of BCM held at Jalan P Ramlee here earlier tonight.
Abdul Karim also said that BCM is a modern, state-of-the-art museum with an impressive amount of effort put in to develop its digital content to increase interaction between the exhibition and the visitors as well as ensure the Sarawak Museum remains up-to-date and relevant amid evolving global dynamics.
He further said moving forward, the Sarawak Museum Department will enhance its roles in producing cultural and creative goods and services by engaging with other cultural and creative industries (CCIs) and collaborate with higher learning institutions, the industry and other stakeholders.
Currently, the Department has signed memoranda of understandings (MOUs) with international and local universities including University of Florida, University New South Wales, Griffith University Australia, EFEO France, Heritage Conservation Centre (HCC) Singapore, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) and Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM).
“These research collaborations are also in line with the aspirations of the ministry in particular and the government in general to document and preserve the tangible and intangible cultural materials in Sarawak through United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognition,” he continued.
Additionally, Abdul Karim said the Sarawak Heritage Ordinance, 2019 (SHO 2019) approved on Nov 5, 2019 in the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) will enable the State to have a better and more comprehensive law to protect, preserve, conserve and manage its heritage assets more efficiently.
“The Sarawak Museum Department will be able to make proper considerations on how to deal with heritage conservation matters within the framework of the new Ordinance.
“SHO 2019 is enforced with effect from March 1, 2022,” he said.
Compared to the previous Sarawak Cultural Heritage Ordinance 1993, the new ordinance widened the scope of heritage to include underwater heritage, intangible cultural heritage, establishment of the ‘Sarawak Heritage Council’ to assist the government on matters of policy relating to heritage.
Under this ordinance, a fund known as the ‘Sarawak Heritage Trust Fund’ was set up for the purpose of preservation and conservation works of the State’s heritage.
The event was officiated by Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, who was accompanied by his wife Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Ragad Kurdi Taib.
Amongst those in attendance were Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg, Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and Federal Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Dato Sri Nancy Shukri. — DayakDaily