[updated 04 Nov. 2016]
The new exhibition, which opened on Sept. 28, – 4 days after the opening of the Brooke Gallery at Fort Margherita -is a journey into Sarawak’s history and culture(s). Set up in the Art Museum wing of the Sarawak Museum, it replaces the gallery on Sarawak’s history and culture that was housed until 2 years ago in the now demolished ex-‘new wing’, presumably until the new museum campus, under construction, is operational in a few years.
The content has been refreshed with contributions from international experts (*) and is more synthesised -perhaps too compact on some aspects, probably as a result of space constraints. It ranges from Sarawak’s paleolithic ages and early history, with sections on the Niah Caves and on the Sarawak River delta highlighting Tom Harrisson’s work, to recent history, with for example a section on the Japanese occupation and the post WW2 turmoil associated to Sarawak’s cession to the British Crown. It also portrays a sample of significant cultural features of some of Sarawak’s ethnic groups including cosmology, ‘adat’ and traditional healing.
On show are priceless pieces drawn from the Museum’s stores, or on loan, that had so far not been exhibited. The modernised, lean presentation includes videos, soundtracks and interactive screens.
A commendable and recommendable exhibit, first of all for locals, but of equal interest to visitors.
Hours: 9 am to 4 pm on weekdays, 10 am to 4 pm on weekends and public holidays. Admission is free.
Practical note: enter the exhibit through the higher entrance door of the Arts Museum building (not the museum shop entrance, which is the end of the visit circuit).
* At the opening of the exhibition, Sarawak’s Chief Minister said that Sarawak welcomes the inputs of experts from other countries to help in annotating the collections of the State Museum.
In the press:
“ ‘Urang Sarawak’ exhibition to highlight state’s heritage” Borneo Post online, 27 Sept. 2016
“Sarawak welcomes foreign help to annotate state museum exhibits” New Straits Times, 28 Sept. 2016
“Cultural heritage is priceless as it reflects a nation’s civilisation, says Abg Jo”, Borneo Post online, 29 Sept. 2016
“New exhibition offers fresh look at Sarawak’s rich ethnic and cultural heritage” and “Locals are most encouraged to visit historical and cultural exhibitions on Sarawak”, The Star online, 1 Oct. 2016
“10 things you might learn at Sarawak Arts Museum’s new exhibition” Seeds-Borneo Post online, 5 Oct. 2016