Sound of music: PPO's associate resident conductor Ng Choong Yen playing a tune on the piano to entertain (from left) PPO's administrator Ramesh Sharma, deputy chairperson Emeritus Prof Tan Sri Gajaraj Dhanarajan, chairperson Datin Seri Irene Yeap and secretary Jason Tan.
GEORGE TOWN: The Star’s former headquarters in Jalan Mesjid Kapitan Keling, a grand old building with a colourful history, is all set for its new role – the hub of Penang’s arts and culture.
Built in 1906, it was once an office where opium licences were issued. It was then known as Opium and Spirit Farm Office. In the 1970s, it became the first Honda showroom in the country.
Now after three years of planning and refurbishment, it houses a gallery bookshop, an exhibit of Penang’s rich history, a reading room, dedicated areas for research, and seminar rooms for 50 to 100 participants.
The crowning glory is the top floor where the Penang Philharmonic Orchestra makes its home and has an auditorium.
So where once the clacking of typewriters and later computer keyboards echoed through the three-storey edifice, there will now be music and sounds of visitors.
The building, named The Star Pitt Street, will be officially declared open tomorrow by former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
This project is a collaborative effort by The Star, Penang Philharmonic and Think City, a subsidiary of government investment arm Khazanah Nasional, tasked with spearheading community-based urban regeneration in Penang.
Through an agreement with the Penang Heritage Trust, The Star gave permission for the building to be turned into the hub.
The Penang Story display on the ground floor includes exhibits and historical accounts of the city’s rise from the colonial era to recent times where it is a thriving metropolis.
A modular set-up, the display was developed by Sue Hodges Productions, which has completed more than 100 museum and heritage projects worldwide over the past 14 years.
Areca Books, a publisher, distributor and online store for books on Penang, Malaysia and South-East Asia, operates the gallery shop.
A host of interesting activities has been lined up for the opening ceremony, including a demonstration of Nyonya beaded footwear and an hour-long walkabout in the building’s vicinity by the Penang Heritage Trust.
Also not to be missed is a showcase by renowned sculptor Low Chee Peng.
The 39-year-old will show off his prized pieces constructed from wood, metal and polymer clay.
Visitors should also catch the “Chennai Nalla Chennai” photo exhibition to get an insight of the Tamil Nadu capital, formerly known as Madras, in India.
There is also “Transit: Penang Alpha” which is an event organised by VLT Kuala Lumpur Sdn Bhd, an award-winning digital services agency. The event is aimed at promoting the entrepreneurial exchange of ideas and collaborations, said VLT head of special projects Jonathan Wong.
For more details, go to facebook.com/TheStarPittStreet.