The new BROOKE GALLERY at Fort Margherita, Kuching, was inaugurated on Sept. 24.
A joint project of the Brooke Heritage Trust, Sarawak’s Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and its Museum Department, it “showcases the history of Sarawak under its White Rajahs with a focus on the many community leaders who worked together with (the Brooke) family to build the foundations of the state” said Jason Brooke, who heads the Brooke Trust.
An interesting part of the exhibition portrays the anti-cession movement, not so well-known among the younger generations, that sprouted when Sarawak was being ceded by Rajah Vyner Brooke to the British Crown as a colony after WW2 – in a global context where the decolonization movement had already taken roots across the British Empire.
The project has mobilised a group of enthusiastic young volunteers from various communities, known as the “Fort Rangers”.
The Gallery’s clean and lean presentation, and Fort Margherita itself, which was built by the Brookes and benefited from quality restoration works a few years ago, form now a key and very valuable local heritage landmark. The Fort’s immediate surroundings have also been nicely re-landscaped.
Naturally, historical legacies such the Sarawak’s century of Brooke rule will always remain subject to controversy, as was recalled by a demonstration by a local group against the Gallery on the day of the inauguration– which made Sarawak’s Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture point out that the exhibit did not seek to glorify the Brookes, adding: “History is still history and we cannot erase them from us. Whether it is valid or not, I leave it to experts and historians to decide.”
The Gallery has a Facebook page.
Not been there yet? Go!
Hours: our understanding is that the Gallery is open at the usual Sarawak museums opening hours, i.e. 9:00 am to 4:30 pm on weekdays & 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on weekends and public holidays
Access from Sarawak river South bank waterfront : by sampan, then short walk via Kampung Boyan.
Admission: Locals: RM5; Foreigners:RM20; Concessions (students, seniors, members of Friends of Sarawak Museum…): RM2.
In the media:
“Brooke Gallery opens at Fort Margherita” and “Group protests opening of Brooke Gallery” – Borneo Post online, 25 Sept. 2016.
“Brooke Gallery vital for Sarawak history” – Sarawak Tribune online, 25 Sept 2016.
“Brooke Gallery a permanent storytelling exhibition” – The Star online, 28 Sept. 2016
“Locals are most encouraged to visit historical and cultural exhibitions on Sarawak” – The Star online, 1 Oct. 2016
“Brooke Gallery sheds light on watershed of White Rajahs” – Borneo Post online, 16 Jan. 2017