Explore the city's artistic side

  • Arts
  • Thursday, 01 May 2014

ALTHOUGH born and bred in Kuala Lumpur, I have never actually gone on foot around Dataran Merdeka and to view the city’s landmarks.

It is definitely worth a trip to take a stroll to learn and remember our country’s history and culture.

The KL City Art Gallery, National Textile Museum and Dataran Merdeka areas still draw tourists daily.

To get a quick lesson on Kuala Lumpur’s rich history, the KL City Art Gallery is the perfect place.

Housed in a historical building constructed in 1899 at Dataran Merdeka — where Independence was declared in 1957 — the gallery tells the story of the city through prints, photos and architectural models.

The building faces the 100m-tall flagpole.

The traditional cloth, woven by the Rungus of Kudat from homegrown and homespun cotton fibre, is known as kain pudang. Acquired in the 1970s from Kudat, Sabah, this is displayed at the National Textile Museum.

Before one enters the building, one will see a huge “I Love KL” structure where visitors pose for photographs.

At the entrance, a huge map of Kuala Lumpur is on a wall and brochures placed at the left.

There are interesting “Did you know?” facts displayed next to the map.

Among the fun facts are that Jalan Masjid India was known as Dickson Street while Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock was known as Foch Avenue.

There is a front desk, but disappointingly, there are no brochures of the gallery at the counter to get more information on the place.

Walking through the building, one will first encounter the Memories of Kuala Lumpur exhibit area where there are timeline panels of historical events that took place in the city as well as at notable historical buildings.

A display at the National Textile Museum showing the technique of making block batik.

The timeline takes one through key events from 1857 when Kuala Lumpur was a tin-mining settlement to 1974 when Kuala Lumpur was formally detached from Selangor and called the Federal Territory.

There are impressive 3D miniatures of national landmarks such as Masjid Jamek.

You will then be led to the largest Kuala Lumpur City model that shows the past, present and future buildings such as Chinatown, Petronas Twin Towers and Warisan Merdeka Tower respectively.

Accompanying the model are lights and video presentations that last for a few minutes explaining the different cultures, transportation and important locations in the city.

Do prepare your camera during the end of the presentation as you will only be given a minute or two to snap pictures of the model before the lights go off again.

A favourite among visitors is the souvenir space, which offers a wide variety of skilfully done and detailed handmade wooden mini architecture replicas of notable places in the city.

Memories of Kuala Lumpur exhibit area at KL City Gallery provides timeline panels of historical events that took place in the city from 1857 to 1974.

However, do not miss out on the noteworthy wrapping papers including one that displays a wide collection of local advertisements from the 1840s to 1960s.

Admission to the place is free and it is open from 9am to 6.30pm daily.

It is located at No. 27, Jalan Raja, Dataran Merdeka.

Once you have a taste of history, you may dive into the different textiles in the country at the National Textile Museum that is across the road from the gallery, in Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin.

It displays traditional handiwork from the Malays, Chinese, Indian, orang asli and natives of Sabah and Sarawak.

There are four main galleries — the Pohon Budi, Pelangi, Teluk Berantai and Ratna Sari galleries.

The Pohon Budi Gallery explains the history of textile in the country and its expansion through trade routes.

Tools, materials and traditional techniques of textile-making through weaving, embroidering, batik drawing, knitting and beading are displayed.

At the Pelangi Gallery, be prepared to be amazed by the diversity and development of batik; collections from the Chinese and the Baba and Nyonya communities, who are known for their silk and gold thread embroidery and beadwork to the textile collections of ethnic Sabah and Sarawak.

Admission to the museum is free and it is open daily from 9am to 6pm but is closed on the first day of Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Hari Raya Haji.

After hours on your feet, you would want to fill your tummy with food and some shade to catch your breath.

For an affordable meal, head to Central Market’s food court, walking distance from the museum.

Enjoy dim sum at the RMZ Central Dim Sum corner at the food court. A standout here is the otak-otak siew mai priced at RM4.50 for three pieces.

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