WHILE the state is moving towards becoming a high income society, its culture and heritage need to be preserved and conserved for the future generations.
As such, Social Development Minister Tan Sri William Mawan Ikom said the Department of Sarawak Museum under the purview of his ministry has been tasked to take charge of the several museums throughout the state, cultural artefacts and historical buildings including archaeological research.
“On the subject of culture, cultural expressions like traditional dances, songs and music are part and parcel of our intangible heritage so research and documentation on ethnic dances including costumes, music and songs as part of the dance repertoire, is an on-going activity.
“Besides, we had also documented traditional sports of our various ethnic communities and promoting these sports through sport competitions at the local level,” he said when delivering his winding-up speech at the State Legislative Assembly here yesterday.
He said Sarawak Museum has been tasked to organise at least two major temporary exhibitions every year or enhance existing ones to offer more excitement to visitors.
“In February this year, the exhibition at the Limbang Museum was enhanced courtesy of the Sarawak Energy Berhad through its Community Service Relations project.
“In March/April 2014 the museum collaborated with the New Zealand High Commission to successfully hold a Maori Art and Culture exhibition entitled ‘Toku Ihu’ at the Arts Museum.
“Among the upcoming exhibitions will be Traditional Pottery and ‘Cultured Highland Rainforest’ which will be jointly hosted by Sarawak Museum and Cambridge University to be held in Petroleum Museum, Miri in the middle and later part of this year,” he noted.
He stressed that Sarawak Museum was also responsible for conducting research and documentation on the state’s heritage, with the results usually put up as part of regular exhibitions.
“Currently, the Sarawak Museum is discussing with History Department of University of Malaya to review and conduct historical and archaeological research in the Sarawak River Delta.
“Negotiation with researchers from Griffith University, Queensland to re-look at the zoo-archaeology of the Niah Caves by the Museum is on-going in an attempt to re-assess its potentiality for more ancient human remains,” he informed the august house.
He also enlightened the august House that projects initiated in the current 10th Malaysia Plan are expected to be completed by the end of this year.
He said the projects include the restoration and upgrading of Fort Alice in Sri Aman at a cost of RM5 million and conservation of Fort Margherita here at a cost of RM1.8 million.
“Fort Margherita is expected to complete this month while Fort Alice in Sri Aman is expected to be completed by November this year,” he disclosed.
He told the house that the state government had also approved the proposal to construct the new Sarawak Museum Campus and Heritage Trail.
“This project is of paramount importance that will enhance the standing of the Sarawak Museum to that of a global institution since its inception 128 years ago.
“It will ensure that our heritage, in the form of a wide array of collections, is well stored, documented, curated and exhibited for the delight of our local and foreign visitors,” he said.
He added that the project included a collection and conservation centre with state of the art care and conservation (includes climate control) standards and best practices to store and conserve our artefacts.
“In addition, it will also facilitate and host research activities for local and overseas institutions. This phase will start this year and is expected to be finished in 2017.
“Besides it will create a new museum core or campus by re-developing the Dewan Tun Abdul Razak and refurbishing the existing three historical buildings across the road to display Sarawak’s rich artefacts to our visitors.
“The exhibition in the new five-storey building will showcase our prehistory, history, culture and heritage of the various communities in Sarawak including galleries designated for women, children and sports and hosting of programmes for schools and community. This phase will commence this year and is expected to be completed in 2019,” he explained.
On the Heritage Trail, he said: “The trail will commence from Padang Merdeka to the Kuching Waterfront and it will be linked to the other side of the river bank by a pedestrian bridge.