American art collector donates Sarawak artifacts to Borneo Cultures Museum

David (centre) and the artifacts which have been repatriated to the Borneo Cultures Museum, together with Kuching South City Council mayor Dato Wee Hong Seng, AHPADA President Edric Ong (second left), Society of Atelier Sarawak president Melinda Omar (first left), Dayang and other guests at the Atelier-AHPADA Forum 2023.

KUCHING, Dec 1: Dr David McLanahan, an 82-year-old adventure traveler and art collector from Seattle, USA, has donated three Sarawak native collections to the Borneo Cultures Museum.

The donated items include an Orang Ulu beaded ear ornament, an Iban beaded sword dangle, and a Bidayuh chief’s necklace.

Dr McLanahan expressed his desire for these artifacts to be in a place where the public can see them, rather than being stored away in collectors’ closets.

He initiated the donation after contacting the Sarawak Museum on his own accord.

“I called them and told them what I got, and if it was anything they (the museum) would want. I am 82-years-old. I don’t want to pass away and have all this stuff where nobody knows what to do with it,” he told reporters at the Atelier-AHPAHA (ASEAN Handicraft Promotion & Development Association) Forum 2023 held in the old Court House today.

The American collector mentioned that he purchased these items during his numerous visits to Sarawak over the past 20 years.

Neither he nor the art dealers who sold the items to him had detailed information about their age and origin.

Dr McLanahan welcomed the Sarawak government to visit his home or select items through photographs for potential future donations.

“I expect to donate 20 to 30 more pieces to the museum here,” he revealed, emphasising the importance of repatriating artefacts to their places of origin.

He disclosed his plan to donate 20 to 30 more pieces to the Borneo Cultures Museum, emphasising the importance of repatriating artifacts to their places of origin.

Dayang Morzanah, Deputy Director of the Sarawak Museum Department, expressed gratitude for Dr McLanahan’s intention to return the artifacts.

She highlighted the value of Sarawak artifacts and the Sarawak government’s commitment to preserving heritage through institutions like the Borneo Cultures Museum.

“This is the way forward for the museum to protect and educate our community through exhibition and by collecting all these artifacts that belong to the people,” she said.

This act of repatriation aligns with the Sarawak government’s efforts to safeguard and educate the community about its cultural heritage.

“This is the way forward for the museum to protect and educate our community through exhibition and by collecting all these artifacts that belong to the people,” she said. — DayakDaily