Blast from the past at BM Museum


Love for all things classic: Yong showing an antique camera among other items on display at BM Museum in Tanah Liat.

BUKIT MERTAJAM: From the outside, BM Museum looks like a majestic traditional house of the Malay community located in Kampung Tanah Liat here. Once inside, it is a jaw-dropping experience for visitors with its fascinating collectables that date back as far as 18th century.

One of the fascinating items is a clothes iron from the 18th century.

Museum owner Yong Kein Sun, 60, said the humble iron, which has been used since the 18th century, was discovered in Myanmar when he visited the country a dozen years ago.

Shaped like a water dipper, the iron is estimated to weigh about 3kg to 4kg. The handle is made of wood while the rest is made of iron which is a receptacle to place charcoal to heat it.

“In Malaysia, it is quite difficult to find items like this. Sometimes, when I hear of people moving houses, I will buy these old items that they do not want to keep, or it is to be shared with other antique collectors for exhibition for the next generation,” he told Bernama.

He said that 20% of the exhibits were his family heirlooms while the rest were scoured from countries such as Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Yong called Indonesia a treasure trove to find antiques such as record players, cameras, calculators and the now-quaint typewriters.

Apart from that, he also collects antique vehicles, such as bicycles, cars and motorcycles and even horse-drawn carriages and rickshaws which can be seen in the outdoor exhibition space at the museum.

Clothes iron also on display at the museum. - BernamaClothes iron also on display at the museum. - Bernama

“I used to have more antique car collections but they are difficult to maintain.

“So I gave them to an antique collector in Johor because he was willing to look after these cars. For me, so long as they (recipients) care for these items, that is reward enough for me because this is a treasure of love that we can share with future generations,” he said.

He shared his frustration that the items are at risk of being stolen due to their high market value.

“In the past, I used to collect old banknotes and coins from several countries but they were all stolen. So now I prefer to collect antiques that are larger in size to reduce the risk of theft.”

Open daily since 2010, BM Museum is open to the public free of charge.

“I do not charge any fees from visitors because for me, I’m keen to share my interest with the public, especially young people. I am satisfied with that. Many of them do not know what these items are and their uses, but after explanation, they look excited,” he said.

Yong said BM Museum often received visits from schools in the state, groups of motorcyclists as well as tourists from abroad, especially fans and hunters of antiques.

From a young age, Yong, who hails from Berapit here, harboured a deep interest in antiques and started collecting them when he was in his early 20s.

He said the antiques were kept in his house till he ran out of space.

He eyes a piece of land in Kampung Tanah Liat to build a museum inspired by traditional Malay houses soon with an area of ​​more than 1,500sq ft, using 100% wood and employing the services of time-honoured woodcarvers to highlight its original architecture.

Yong has no intention of charging visitors or even shuttering the museum despite dishing out at least RM2,000 per month for the museum’s maintenance.

BM Museum opens daily except on festivals, from 9am until 7pm.

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