As a foreigner, I found it relatively easy to get there by public transport.
After alighting at the Muzium Negara MRT station, what came into view was a magnificent building with a traditional Minangkabau-style roof.
Two large murals lined its front facade portraying highlights from Malaysian history and culture.
Once inside the building, my eyes were drawn to the beautiful stairs in the hall and its brilliant patterned window.
The display window on both sides of the central hall showcased ceramic craft set items.
On the right side of the entrance is
Gallery A, displaying the results of historical research and archaeological excavations
in three main sections comprising the Permian Era, Prehistoric Era and Proto-Historic Era.
What impressed me most in this gallery were the sun-shaped stone bracelet recovered from a Neolithic burial site and the beads from Bronze Metal Age archaeological sites in peninsular Malaysia.
Gallery B, themed “The Malay Kingdoms,” introduced the development of early settlements, the emergence of Malay kingdoms and sultanates, the arrival of Islam and the importance of Malacca as a trading centre.
A wooden door was set at the entrance of Gallery B with gamelan music playing. Crossing over the wooden door’s threshold made me feel like I was entering an old era. Inside the gallery, beautiful mahogany
furniture, elaborate carpets, brass, silver and gold ornaments as well as a royal throne were on display.
Gallery C introduced Malaysia’s colonial era which started in 1511 and ended in 1945.
Gallery D, called “Malaysia Today,” showcased the Malayan Emergency, the struggle for independence, the formation of Malaysia, the political system and the country’s economic development.
The exhibits in this gallery included items such as tengkolok (headgear) of Malay rulers, a copy of the Malaysian Constitution and traditional attire of all races in Malaysia.
Outside the National Museum, there was
a music section which showcased instruments such as gendang (drum), rebana (percussion), rebab (stringed instrument) and serunai (flute).
Also on the grounds was a “Rumah Tiang Dua Belas,” which is an original-size old Terengganu timber palace.
The Malay-world Ethnology Museum is nearby, displaying wayang kulit, a shadow puppet theatre similar to the Chinese shadow play called “pi ying.”
There is also the Orang Asli Crafts Museum which showcases the arts and handicrafts of Orang Asli, the aboriginal communities.
The Orang Asli are famed for their handicrafts, particularly the wood-carving skills of the Mah Meri and Jah Hut tribes who like to carve masks and figures and these are highly valued by collectors.
Personally, I found the exhibits outside the main museum such as the first Proton Saga (the first made-in-Malaysia car), old Dennis fire engine and three locomotives were more attractive than the exhibits inside the building.
I have been to lots of museums and compared to other national museums, this one is a little small for a national museum.
I also noticed that the majority of visitors were students.
I think it is better to increase multimedia interaction and add new facilities that can give visitors a deeper understanding of Malaysian history.
Even with the few shortcomings, I still recommend tourists to visit the National Museum because it is a good place to learn about Malaysia’s history and culture.