KUCHING: The state Government will build a Museum of Modern Sarawak, emphasising on events after 1963, because history books have not recorded the period since well.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem said Sarawak under the White Rajah rule, colonialism and Japanese occupation have been covered in greater detail in history.
“From the first landing of Sir James Brooke to 1963, that period is covered well in in our school books, literature and our existing museums. But from the period 1963 until now, which can be described as the modern history of Sarawak, not so much. It’s time we do justice to this period. It was turbulent times (during which) many things happened,” Adenan said at the earth breaking ceremony on Thursday night.
The Chief Minister said Sarawak’s political instability would be covered, the formation of the state’s coalition government in 1970 as well as controversial periods like leadership tussles in the mid 1980s better known as the Ming Court Affair.
“It would be an injustice if we don’t learn from what has come before.
We should have a bigger and longer view of history. We can stand on the shoulders of those before us and have a better sense of our future,” Adenan said.
Head of State Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud and the family members of past Governors were guests of honour at the ceremony.
The new museum will be located behind the existing Astana, near the Orchid Garden, new Sarawak Legislative Assembly Complex and Wisma Bapa. Naim Holdings is the turnkey contractor, while the design of the museum is by Singapore’s PADI Gallery and Design.
The architectural firm’s other works in Malaysia include the Muzium Adat in Negri Sembilan, Muzium Textile in Kuala Lumpur and Gallery Perdana in Langkawi.
Social Development and Urbanisation Minister Tan Sri William Mawan Ikom said the building period should take about three years to complete. “Once completed, it will be handed over to the Sarawak Museum Department,” Mawan said.
The main museum will be three storeys, fronted by a nine-tier fountain built against a slope - a new icon of historical importance.
“On display will be our recent history, our icons, past leaders contributions, sacrifices and policies they adopted that has led to our modern Bumi Kenyalang,” Mawan said.
In a media handout, the design concept of the museum was described as “elegant and simple in terms of facade treatment”. Inside, all three levels of gallery spaces will be vertically linked by a circular ramp, and was designed with sustainability features like natural lighting and cooling in mind.
“A main foundation is proposed in front of the main gallery building. It will be in a cascading form that follows the contours of the landscape. It is made up of nine ‘stairs’ to symbolise the state’s culture and leaders.”
The permanent collection should hold about 3,000 exhibits in nine galleries, highlighting the state’s pre-Malaysia days, formation of the federation, past Governors and Chief Ministers, urban and rural development, economic progress and a mini “Children’s Museum”.
Interestingly, there would also be a special space dedicated to P Ramlee and a collection of art by Indonesian artists.