Sarawak Museum Campus receives RM200,000 in pledges

Gathorne-Hardy flips through a Sarawak Museum Journal together with Ipoi and van de Bunte. — Photo by Chimon Upon

Gathorne-Hardy flips through a Sarawak Museum Journal together with Ipoi and van de Bunte. — Photo by Chimon Upon

KUCHING: The Sarawak Museum Campus Project has received RM200,000 in pledges for its postdoctoral fellowships next year.

Earl of Cranbrook Dato Sri Gathorne Gathorne-Hardy, who is Sarawak Museum Department honorary curator of mammals, pledged RM100,000 for one of the campus’ 12 fellowships, while the McDonald Institute of Archaeology and St John’s College, Cambridge matched the pledge.

Gathorne-Hardy said the fellowship would promote research in zoo archaeology at the department, with training for two years on an academic level as well as studying and documenting the museum’s zooarchaeological collections.

“An important collection of animal bones from the Niah Cave since 1961 has been on loan to Naturalis in Leiden, The Netherlands,” he told a press conference yesterday.

He explained that the collection will be returned to the Sarawak Museum for further curation by the Sarawak Museum Campus fellow.

“Exciting finds are expected and the new knowledge will be displayed in the new exhibition galleries.”

Museum Department director Ipoi Dantan said the newly-established fellowships are divided into 12 key topics, requiring PhD holders in the expertise areas to assume the role of guest curators.

“We are doing all the preparation work to make Sarawak Museum  the biggest and most modern in the region,” he said.

Ipoi said as the new museum building is expected to be ready by 2020, the department should be able to achieve its target of becoming the Global Centre for Bornean Heritage by 2030.

He added that specialist knowledge is required to give depth to the museum’s exhibition storyline and provide new academic insights.

Sarawak Museum Campus Project and Heritage Trail senior project leader Hans van de Bunte explained the exhibition storyline is being developed with a strong research background and will be presented in an accessible format to engage with a broad audience.

“New research and perspectives woven into the exhibition storyline will keep the exhibition valid and exciting for the next decades. Besides, this first group of fellows is a great step towards building up a research agenda for the Sarawak Museum Campus and will provide future visitors to the museum a sense of awe and admiration for the cultural history of Sarawak and Borneo,” said van de Bunte.

He added the year-long fellowships will see research concentrated on material culture and the significance of museum collections.

Interested candidates have until Nov 30 to email their original research proposals in English (maximum 1,000 words) to the department.

The Sarawak Museum Campus Project is funded by the State to revive the international status of the Sarawak Museum and to showcase Sarawak’s rich cultural and historical heritage.

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