Museum should be aggressive in attracting visitors

KOTA KINABALU: The State Islamic Civilisation Museum has been urged to be more aggressive in attracting local and foreign visitors.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun, in making the call, said the institution needed to be more creative in its approach in order to promote its events effectively.

“I suggest that we make full use of this facility. Museum is not just about providing the building and the artifact but more about ensuring what we have in our collection are able to attract the people to visit. It is important that we engage the public and share the artifact with them,” he said.

Speaking at the opening of “Busana Islam” Exhibition at the Islamic Civilisation Museum here yesterday, Masidi said the State Museum in Kota Kinabalu has not successfully established itself as a must-visit place among outsiders yet.

He noted that the whole State Museum receives an average of 150,000 visitors annually or just over 10,000 visitors a month, which is not a satisfactory figure when compared to popular museums in other countries where people sometimes have to wait in line for their turn to get in.

The Islamic Civilisation Museum, although part of the State Museum and visitors can use the ticket they bought at the main museum building to enter the former, fares much worst and receives only 400 to 450 visitors monthly.

“Most of the visitors to the Islamic Museum are schoolchildren and that the museum needs to reach out to a wider audience, to attract the adults as well, and not just the locals but also foreign visitors.

“Promotional methods need to be diversified, to keep them attractive, fresh and appealing to the public so that they would come to visit. The presentation of the artifact must also be well planned so that they are always interesting and exciting,” said Masidi.

He commended the museum for organising the Busana Islam (Islamic Costumes) Exhibition as a new attraction, in addition to its existing old and rare items on Islamic development and civilisation, which were gathered from all around the world since its establishment in 2002.

He suggested that the curator make the exhibition more exciting by inviting fashion designers to participate in the event, to showcase their creativities in transforming the costumes in displaying modern fashion and practical dress wear for the today’s generation.

“I’m confident the exhibits here today would be able to inspire the designer to come up with a design for modern Muslims. Apart from Islamic costumes, I hope the museum would showcase collections of traditional costumes of different people from places in Malaysia and the world.

“We certainly hope that the museum would showcase different collections more often to attract more visitors from among the locals as well as tourists,” he said.

The Busana Islam Exhibition was proposed by Masidi himself last year, to showcase different varieties of costumes worn by Muslims from around the world.

The exhibition, which will be held until July, displays costumes and accessories during the Prophet Muhammad’s and Khulafa al-Rasyidin era, during the reign of Umayyah and Abbasiyah, as well as the Mamluk, Uthmaniyah, Mughal and many others .

An area of 332 square feet has been allocated to display the items at the upper floor of the two-storey Islamic museum located off Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman behind the Sacred Heart Church.

In total, there are 13 pairs of Islamic costumes, about 30 accessories and 28 photos for visitors to look at, mostly from foreign countries such as Jordan, Brunei Darussalam, Singapore, Dubai, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Persia.

Islamic teachings state that every Muslim must dress themselves according to the Islamic command – that is to cover their “aurat” where certain parts of the body should not be seen by others except their spouses.

The new display reflects on the importance of clothing and accessories for the Muslims in the past and present, providing visitors a glimpse of the Islamic Code of ethics and the dynamic history of the Islamic Culture in the world.

Sabah Musuem director Datuk Joseph Guntavid, in his welcoming speech, said the objective of the exhibition was mainly to give opportunity to the younger generation, especially students to develop interest on museum collections in general and Islamic artifact in particular.

He noted that various other programmes and activities have been lined up by the State Museum in addition to the ongoing exhibition, including “Craft Exotica” which will be held at the Museum’s Kampung Warisan site from May 2 – 27, in conjunction with the Harvest Festival.

He added that Sabah will also hold a state-level International Museum Day celebration from May 18 – 21, where admission to all museum premises will be free of charge on the first day of the celebration.

During the opening day, he said the State Museum would also host an open house where various activities such as exclusive tour to the museum’s artifact storage room will be held.

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