KUCHING: The much-awaited Sarawak Museum Campus will only be open to the public in September 2020, even though the physical completion of the project and the handing over from the contractor to the Sarawak government will be done next month (March 2019).
Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, who said this, explained the long time taken is to allow historical artefacts to be moved to the building and to ensure the artefacts are displayed with accurate description.
He also hinted that Sarawak Museum Campus, which is set to be the second biggest museum in South East Asia, will take on a new name when it is officially declared open in September 2020.
“As you all know, this is going to be the pride of all Sarawakians. I have been repeating that we will not be selling Sarawak as a shopping paradise, but we will sell Sarawak for its heritage, environment and all that. This is where the role of museums is partly important.
“That is why I believe the state government embarked on a construction of a very big museum, which is the second largest in South East Asia,” he said when officiating at the presentation of the exhibition content of the permanent galleries in the Sarawak Museum Campus project.
Held at a leading hotel here, the presentation was presided by the project’s exhibition content manager Yasmin Khalid Nicholls and GSM Projects Singapore design director Laura Miotto.
Based on previous news reports, the project was estimated to cost RM308 million and reputed to be state-of-the-art and set to be one of the finest in the region when completed.
Abdul Karim also said the construction went on smoothly except for a week stop-order in September last year due to a dengue outbreak.
He hoped the artefacts from the previous museum which are now kept in various places in the city are stored and preserved accordingly.
On a personal note, Abdul Karim said he hoped the new museum can be open earlier since the old museum is now also closed for construction work.
“I hope the opening of the museum, scheduled in September 2020, will not be delayed further… This is because I feel that it must be must-visit place. Whoever comes to Kuching whether they are domestic or foreign tourists, that will be a place for Sarawak Tourism Board to be promoting as a place to go for them,” he said.
He also said it was odd that the old museum was closed a year before construction was due to start there, because it is depriving local visitors including school children and tourists of a lot of things which Sarawak can show them while the new museum is undergoing construction.
On a related note, he hoped whatever management structure is introduced for the museum will be a workable system that will bring the museum and management of heritage to a higher platform.
He also hoped there will no politicking and raising of religious and racial sentiments within the structure.
“If I hear anything like that, I will make sure that person is out of the museum. I want to see the museum moving up without any political, religious or racial sentiments in the management. I will go out of my way if the thing is not moving the way it should be. If they don’t like me, they can take me out of the ministry,” he said.
He also pledged the ministry will assist the Museum Department with the recruitment and also funds for the training of personnel for the museum.
Also present at the event were Sarawak Museum Department acting director Suria Bujang and representatives of various organisations and associations.