National Museum

Website : http://www.muziumnegara.gov.my/
Entry Fee : RM2
Google Maps Link : https://goo.gl/maps/NRyuAsdtRS92

I've always admired the architecture of the Muzium Negara building. Definitely one of the most iconic buildings in the country. It has looked the same for as far as I can remember. As we know, KL is city that has undergone a lot of changes in it's landscape especially in the past two decades. But the museum has always looked the same since I first visited it in the late 90s.

Front view. Entrance is the middle part of the building
It is a wide building and there's not enough space to move back from the entrance to take a good photo of the whole building. You would need a wide-angle lens or maybe one of those smartphones that claim to have that kind of lens. Otherwise, you will need to exit the museum area and drive across the road to get a view like above. That photo is actually from the website of Department of Museums Malaysia as I simply could not take a good front view photo.

As I parked my car in the museum's compound, I noticed there are two other museums in the area, Orang Asli Crafts Museum and Malay World Ethnology Museum. I will write about these museums the next time I visit.

Signboard at the carpark entrance
The parking fee was a decent RM3 for the first three hours. There were three early locomotives displayed before the entrance, plus a statue of Sir Frank Swettenham and a short description of his contributions as a colonial administrator in Malaya. Further inside (still before the museum entrance), there was a white 1985 Proton Saga displayed. Apprarently, this was one of the first 30 Proton Sagas produced. However, next to it was a Proton Suprima, a very recent model. Not quite sure why it is displayed in a museum.

In front of the two Protons, in the open space, was a model of Bas Mini, the legendary city bus that used to compete with motorcycles for speed and agility on the streets of Klang Valley! Those who grew up travelling on a Bas Mini would want to bring their children to see this bus and tell all the stories about it. You can read more about the experience of boarding a Bas Mini here.

Arch at the museum entrance from carpark

Bas mini

Amazingly, the entrance fee to the museum was even cheaper at RM2 per adult! As I entered, I was approached by two volunteer tour guides offering a free tour of the museum. I declined because my intention was to read the description on as much displays as I can. You can find more info about the volunteer tour guides here.

The National Museum has four galleries. Gallery A is dedicated to early history of the Malaysian lands, Gallery B was about early establishments and sultanates. Gallery C provides walkthrough on the colonial era between 1500 - 1940s and finally Gallery D - about the nationalistic uprising, independence to present achievements. Galleries A and C are on the west wing, on the first and second floor respectively, while Galleries B and D are on the east wing.

Visitor guide

Gallery A
As a fan of historic artifacts, this section interested me the most. I especially like to see the remains of ancient civilisations like skeletons, tools and tool makers. In school, I've learned that most of these findings were made in Sarawakian caves. At Gallery A, I was surprised by number of artifacts discovered in Perak. I would say there were more artifacts from Perak than Sarawak.

The story of Perak Man was very interesting. It is the known to be the oldest human remains found in Malaysia. It was discovered in one of the caves in Lenggong, Perak. Apparently, there were quite a bit of activities in Lenggong during the Stone Ages, based on the number of artifacts found in that area. Read more about Perak Man here.

Stone tools from Palaeolithic Era (early Stone Age)


Megaliths - stones with carvings used to mark a burial site


Replica of the remains of Perak Man

Gallery B
This gallery mostly speaks about the glory days of the early empires like Srivijaya, Palembang and mostly Malacca. Some of the items on display here are royal garments and traditional weaponry. And also there were stories about the important events that took place in those empires. I didn't spend much time here as there were not much ancient discoveries on display.

Statue of Avalokitteshvara, a common theme in any South East Asian civilizations
Gallery C
The colonial era has to be the most interesting history chapter in school, not because of the colonisation, but because of the well documented events that took place and the artifacts left behind. Parts of Malaysia were colonised by the Portuguese, Dutch, British and the Japanese at different points in time. If you visit this gallery, do read every single word in it!

There was an interesting story about Flor de la Mar, the Portuguese ship that sank somewhere in the Straits of Malacca, together with the treasure looted from the Malaccan Empire. Read more about Flor de la Mar here. Further into this gallery, there is a section whose design is inspired by the A Famosa in Malacca.

Gallery D
This gallery also had a lot of interesting items displayed. I liked the old letters and newspaper cutouts of important events before independence. There were also artifacts that belonged to the time of Communist Insurgency. Other than that, the items displayed became more and more familiar and recent, like the festivals and traditional outfit of different ethnic groups in Malaysia.

A depiction of 'Sekolah Pondok', a traditional education system for religious studies


A copy of the Straits Times newspaper in February 1956!

Conclusion
For just RM 2, there were a lot of interesting things to see and read. This museum is always promoted in 'places to visit' list for tourists, but more locals should visit it as even for most locals, there were a lot of things to learn.

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