Sarawak Museum eyes 12 fellowships

(from left) Ipoi, Gathorne and van de Bunte looking through at the Sarawak Museum’s latest journal edition after the press conference.

KUCHING: The Sarawak Museum Department welcomes applications for 12 fellowships to be based at the state museum, to help annotate its vast collection.

Its director Ipoi Datan said application was open to experienced local and foreign experts who had done research in the state in various disciplines such as archaeology, anthropology and history.

The fellowships will be granted for the period of one year, and research will be focused on material culture and the significance of the museum collections. Part of the assignment includes exchanging knowledge with the museum curators and to assist in capacity building.

“The permanent exhibition galleries at the new museum that span 6,000 sq m and specialist knowledge is required to give depth to the exhibition storyline and provide new academic insights.

“The newly established fellowships are divided into12 key topics for which the Sarawak Museum is looking for PhD holders in the specialised areas so they can assume the role of guest curators,” he told a press conference at the department’s office here.

Ipoi said that apart from having a well-defined research and development role, the fellows would train department staff to document the collections according to international standards.

“The exhibition storyline is developed with a strong research background, and will be presented in an accessible format so that it engages with a broad audience. It will be presenting exciting knowledge about the local communities, culture, history and archaeology of Sarawak and Borneo at large,” he added.

The fellowship programme is part of state-funded Sarawak Museum Campus project to revive the international status of the facility to showcase the state’s rich cultural and historical heritage that will incorporate education and public outreach programmes.

Its main goal is to set up a world-class museum campus and becoming one of the best museums in the region.

Sarawak Museum Campus project director Hans van de Bunte said the fellowships would establish the history of collections and reconstructing the historic exhibition layouts since 1891.

The fellowship will also provide preliminary training in human bones work and practical experience in burial archaeology, using the prehistoric cemeteries in Sarawak as a data set.

Other research includes establishing zooarchaeological research and documentation on the vast collections from Niah, understanding the use of animal bones by humans in prehistoric times in Borneo and understanding early human settlements through rock art sites in Sarawak.

“New research and perspective woven into the exhibition storyline will keep the exhibition valid and exciting for the next decade.

Sarawak Museum honorary curator of mammals Datuk Seri Gathorne Gathorne-Hardy said one of the 12 fellowships would receive a sponsorship grant of RM100,000 to promote research in zooarchaeology.

His pledge is also matched by offers from the McDonald Institute of Archaeology as St John’s College, Cambridge.

Interested candidates must email their application before Nov 30, 2016, together with their research proposal, cover letter and Curriculum Vitae to van de Bunte at

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