THE new Sarawak Museum Campus is expected to become the second largest museum in South East Asia, after the National Museum in Singapore, once it reaches completion in mid-2020.
According to Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, the five-storey building is set to be another iconic landmark of the city.
“It (museum) will provide about 6,500 square meters of exhibition space to showcase Borneo’s rich history spanning more than 42,000 years,” he said in his ministry’s winding-up speech at the DUN yesterday.
Abdul Karim also said the permanent narrative would apply interesting themes to link together a variety of collections, photographs, footage and stories into a cohesive and interactive experience.
Additionally, it is expected to reap economic benefits from increased cultural tourism as the exhibition would be carefully planned to cater to a broad range of audience, he added.
Another building closer to Jalan P Ramlee, said Abdul Karim, is the four-storey administrative-cum-conservation centre, which will house state-of-the-art conservation and laboratory facilities – all slated for ensuring that the collection could be preserved better and documented for posterity.
“It will also serve as a resource and research centre in its quest to achieve the vision of becoming the ‘Global Centre for Bornean Heritage’ by 2030.
“With more storage space, the museum can renew its acquisition programme to ensure that more of Sarawak’s heritage can be safeguarded and protected.
“The physical construction of the two buildings is progressing well, at about 75 per cent, and scheduled to be open to public as early as 2020,” he said.
Meanwhile the original Museum Building, which was built in 1891, is currently being restored to showcase the building and the exhibits, as an example of the late 19th to early 20th century museology.
Abdul Karim said to ensure that the Sarawak Museum Campus project would attain global standard, several partnerships and signings of memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with renown institutions had been undertaken such as those with the British Museum and the Natural History Museum – both in London, and also the Reinwardt Academy Amsterdam.
“Among the matters that have been agreed upon include educational and cultural exchange through internships and attachment of staff, as well as collaboration on temporary loans of collections for exhibitions,” he added.
Under the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP), five historical forts – Fort Lily in Betong, Fort Emma in Kanowit, Fort Hose in Marudi, Fort Brooke in Julau, and Fort Sylvia in Kapit – would undergo conservation and maintenance works.
The forts at Betong and Kanowit, said Abdul Karim, would be converted into regional museums displaying local history, culture and crafts, while the existing galleries at Kapit and Marudi would be enhanced.
Fort Brooke would be used as a rural community centre, which would include a rural library.
“All works on these forts will start this year and (are) expected to be completed by mid-2020,” he said.
Touching on handicrafts, Abdul Karim said Sarawak recorded a sale of RM27.352 million last year.
For this year, the target would be RM28.835 million.
“The total sale for the first half of 2018 was RM14.017 million. The sales figures are monitored by Malaysian Handicraft Development Corporation (Kraftangan Malaysia),” he said.