Borneo Cultures Museum opens doors to public on March 9 after official opening by TYT on March 4

Abdul Karim (centre) is flanked by Hii on his right and Tazudin on his left as they give their thumbs-up during a photo-call with the majestic museum in the background.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Feb 22: After many years of waiting, Sarawak’s Borneo Cultures Museum, which is the largest museum in Malaysia and second largest in Southeast Asia, will be officially launched by Head of State Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud this March 4 at 8pm.

The museum will be opened to the public from March 9 onwards with free entrance for visitors in the first three months.

Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said that the plan to open the museum earlier was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic which also slowed down the process of setting up the displays and showcases in the museum.

“This museum will become the one of the main attractions in Kuching as while we are still in a cautious period of the Covid-19 pandemic, visitors to the museum will be limited to 500 people at a time when it is opened to the public.

“As it is a new place, it will definitely attract a lot of people. As part of crowd control measures and to avoid waits in a long queue as it will take hours to complete a tour of the museum, we encourage the public to pre-book their visits online,” he told a press conference at the Borneo Cultures Museum here today.

Permanent secretary to the Ministry Hii Chang Kee and Sarawak Museum Department director Tazudin Mohtar were among those present.

Borneo Cultures Museum

While the entrance fees have yet to be fixed, Abdul Karim said that the ministry will seek State Cabinet approval as to how much to charge and whether to extend free entrance to six months instead of three months.

Construction of the brand new museum started in 2014 and the RM323 million project was fully funded by the Sarawak government.

In its permanent exhibitions, Sarawak Museum Department revealed that state-of-art technology will be used to showcase over a thousand artefacts that represent Sarawak’s diverse culture and unique history across 31,000 square metres over five floors.

By comparison to such a huge floorspace available, displays and showcases in the museum are still sparse, but Abdul Karim said more exhibits will be set up given a little bit more time.

“It is going to be very interesting. It is different from the old museum. Families with children will love to come here.

“But I hope visitors will take good care of our museum including the cleanliness and artefacts. Obey the instructions when visiting,” he advised.

A section of exhibits in the Borneo Cultures Museum. Photo credit: Awang Mohamed Fadli

As to whether the museum will provide a virtual tour for visitors unable to visit physically, Abdul Karim pointed out: “A teaser tour would be alright but not a full virtual tour, otherwise people will not come anymore. We want people to visit and physically experience it all.”

The exhibition is divided into different levels with unique storylines. Level 3 is themed “In Harmony with Nature” and explores the relationship between humans and nature..Level 4 is themed “Time Changes” which tells the history of Sarawak and Borneo from prehistoric times to the 1970s and Level 5 is themed “Objects of Desire” which showcases the most cherished objects of Sarawak’s ehtnic groups.

Meanwhile, om Level 2 is a separate exhibition themed “Love Our Rivers” which is specifically designed to fulfill a vital social responsibility by empowering children’s imagination, creativity, and environmental stewardship.

The Borneo Cultures Museum will be open seven days a week with Mondays to Fridays from 9am to 4.45pm while Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays will see opening hours set from 9.30am to 4.30pm.

Bookings to visit the museum may be made from March 1 onwards. — DayakDaily

A state-of-the-art showcase of underground natural history in the Borneo Cultures Museum. Photo credit: Awang Mohamed Fadli