Old Sarawak Museum to close for RM38 million makeover

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KUCHING: The Old Sarawak Museum will be closed temporarily from Oct 23 onwards to enable renovation and restoration works to be carried out.

Renovation work is expected to take two-and-a-half-years and the building which currently houses the Ethnology Museum is expected to re-open in June 2020 to the public.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg made the announcement at a press conference at Wisma Bapa Malaysia here this afternoon.

He said the closure was intended to facilitate the renovation of the building which was founded in 1888 and opened in 1891.

The renovation project which costs RM38 million will see the original structure of the building kept due to its historical value.

“We know that the building is a very old building, but it is part of the process to conserve the old building. So we have to close the building from the public, while at the same time, we are building our museum campus.

“And we have to move all our artefacts from the old building for safekeeping, while at the same time, we are renovating that old building.”

The historic and gazetted museum building, built by the Second White Rajah Sir Charles Brooke on the recommendation of renown naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, is in urgent need of physical conservation, and rewiring and upgrading.

The old air-conditioning units are subject to constant breakdowns and are beyond repair while the roof has multiple leakages.

The Sarawak Museum Department has made plans for the removal of all movable artefacts, specimens, and authentic showcases from the old museum to a temporary location for safekeeping and conservation to pave way for the renovation of the historical building.

The old building has been in the past the main attraction for the Museum.

At its prime, it used to attract up to 800,000 to 600,000 visitors per year. Lately, the figure has dropped to 400,000.