Saturday, June 19

Minister: Aquarium behind Natural History Museum to be expanded


KUCHING: The aquarium behind the Natural History Museum of the newly-completed Sarawak Museum Complex here will be expanded to showcase the fish species of Sarawak.

According to Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, the aquarium may not be above average in size or extent, but it should be able to showcase the various aquatic vertebrates of Sarawak.

“Behind the Natural History Museum, we have an aquarium which will be part of the entire Sarawak Museum Complex.

“The aquarium will be expanded and will be an attraction for parents to bring their children for a visit.

“It might not be a very, very big aquarium (but) at least, we will be able to showcase the fishes that we have in and around Sarawak,” he said when met by reporters at the new Sarawak Museum here yesterday.

Talking about the term ‘museum complex’, Abdul Karim said it referred not just the museum building itself, but also those within its perimeter including the Old Museum across the street, as well as other blocks adjacent to the Old Museum.

“All these are within the vicinity of the museum complex,” he reiterated.

Abdul Karim pointed out the new Sarawak Museum as ‘actually a cultural museum’, while the Old Museum and the Natural History Museum situated opposite it are presently undergoing renovation.

“So when it is a cultural museum, it will display the customs, the lifestyles and the history of the various ethnic groups in Sarawak.

“That’s the reason why I mentioned earlier that this museum will be the pride of all Sarawakians, because we have diverse ethnic groups.

“And they can come over to this museum to see a part of them. The Orang Ulu can see their designs, (so can) the Melanaus and the Chinese too. So they will feel very, very proud of that,” he said.

Abdul Karim acknowledged that it would take time for the new Sarawak Museum Complex to be filled with artefacts and historical collections.

He said history and backgrounds of these artefacts and collections must be provided to educate and enlighten the visitors, be they locals or foreigners.

“We need to tell stories to the visitors. But we expect it (gathering and categorisation of artefacts and collections) to be done within one year and a half. We don’t know about the exact date, but the official launch will be next year.

“I’m putting my pressure on them (Museum Department of Sarawak). If possible, (we hope to) do it within a year and I’d be happy,” he added.

The new Sarawak Museum, of which construction works commenced in 2015, reached completion in May this year with a total cost of RM323 million. This world-class museum, to be equipped with digital facilities, is expected to open its doors to the public by the end of next year.