KUALA LUMPUR: The vacant Carcosa Seri Negara is undergoing a transformation to showcase a special exhibition with never-before-seen artefacts telling the untold history of Malaya's road to Merdeka (independence).
The Asian Heritage Museum (AHM) has been granted tenancy of the Carcosa and Seri Negara mansions that are part of the Carcosa Seri Negara building.
Over the next three years, AHM will use it as a museum, performing arts and cultural event space, a resource centre on the history of the building, and more.
The two colonial mansions have been vacant since they stopped operations as part of the Carcosa Seri Negara luxury hotel, the first eight years ago and the second three years ago.
They are currently undergoing refurbishment works in anticipation of AHM's projects.
The inaugural exhibition called "Jalan Merdeka" will be launched on Aug 31, led by AHM Council chairman Tunku Zain Al'-Abidin ibni Tuanku Muhriz.
Jalan Merdeka will go beyond the official story of Malaysia's independence to explore rarely-told perspectives, including those of the labour communities and opposition forces, the impact of the Cold War, and more.
"The exhibition is curated to show different perspectives by highlighting the roles of normal people and not just the political elites," said Tunku Zain.
"Seri Negara is a historical location where the Malay rulers signed the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957, and we will also recreate the scene of the signing in the very room where the agreement was signed," he said, adding that it will be one of the most powerful parts of the exhibition.
The National Archives of Malaysia, one of the project partners, will be exhibiting never-before-seen artefacts including the table used in the signing of the agreement, newspaper articles, and materials from opposition parties in the 1940s.
"This exhibition will be different from all the other Merdeka-themed exhibitions because it is specially focused on the events held in Carcosa Seri Negara and not just about the well-known Dataran Merdeka," National Archives deputy director-general (research and outreach sector) G. Savumthararaj said.
The Japanese Embassy has also signed on as a partner and will be sponsoring an elaborate fireworks show during the launch.
"On Aug, 31, 1957, the Japanese community and government contributed fireworks to the people celebrating Merdeka as a symbol of friendship.
"We are looking forward to the opportunity to recreate this scene 60 years later to enhance the relationship between Japan and Malaysia," said Japanese Embassy counsellor Hiroyuki Orikasa.
The fireworks show will be held at Lake Gardens and will be open to the public.
The exhibition will be launched by the Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negri Sembilan, Tuanku Muhriz ibni Almarhum Tuanku Munawir.
The Jalan Merdeka exhibition will run throughout the month of September and entrance will be free for Malaysians.
Entrance fees for non-Malaysians will be announced soon.
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