Reopening of Old Sarawak Museum delayed, no concrete plans yet for City Aquarium, Summer House

The old Sarawak Museum building with the new Borneo Cultures Museum partly seen far at right. (file photo)

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, June 14: Renovation and restoration of the Old Sarawak Museum founded in 1888 has been completed but it is unlikely to be opened to the public soon as installation of exhibitions would take at least two years.

Ministry of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah revealed that there would be a delay in the re opening given the time-consuming and technical work involved in creating and fitting out the exhibitions and galleries.

“If possible, I would of course want the work to be done sooner but I was informed by the (Sarawak) Museum Department that it would probably need two years, instead of one year, to put together the exhibitions.

“The problem is with developing, arranging and mounting the display of artifacts and materials which have been conserved. They required special storage, just like those installed in Borneo Cultures Museum, that can control the humidity and temperature conditions to prevent damage as well as deterioration,” he told a press conference at his office here today.

Apart from that, he also noted that preparing the information to be displayed along with each artifact is also a very time-consuming job.

Abdul Karim speaking about issues on future planning for old attractions in Kuching.

The Old Sarawak Museum was closed on Oct 23, 2017 for renovation and restoration works which was expected to take two-and-a-half years. Initially, the building which currently houses the Ethnology Museum was scheduled to reopen in June 2020.

On plans for the old Kuching City Aquarium near Jalan Reservoir which can be accessed from the Old Sarawak Museum, Abdul Karim explained that the ministry is still looking at several options by getting feedback from various quarters.

“Unlike aquarium attractions in other countries, this (City) Aquarium is more like a house aquarium which is considered small unless we want to expand the areas to display all kinds of marine animals and species.

“But we need to get more feedback first before we can plan on what to do with it,” he said.

The Kuching City Aquarium has been closed for many years now with speculations in 2016 that it could be turned into a restaurant.

As for the tea house, which is popularly known as Summer House located downhill of the Old Sarawak Museum, Abdul Karim said there were plans with many suggestions on how to make the area attractive, such as a spot for garden weddings or leisure high teas.

“But no plans are finalised yet at the moment. We will raise this at the top level and get more feedback before coming up with a concrete plan.”

At the press conference, Abdul Karim also presented the Sarawak flag to Sarawak Museum Department chef de mission Rhemy Romeo who will be leading a 31-member Sarawak delegation to Kota Kharu, Kelantan which is hosting this year’s national-level annual International Museum Day celebration from June 18 to 25.

Earlier, he also received a courtesy visit from United States Embassy in Kuala Lumpur Charge D’Affaires Michael Newbill where both parties had about an hour-long discussions on important matters in the former’s office. — DayakDaily

Abdul Karim (second left) in a discussion with Newbill (second right).