Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sabah State Museum - Unveiling the pride of Sabah

Sabah's unique State Museum buildings are styled after Murut and Rungus longhouses

Visitors taking a closer look at a Bisaya House in the Heritage Village

Picturesque view of some of the traditional houses in the Heritage Village

Visitors touring the ethno botanical garden

One of the steam engines in the museum ground

A Lepa boat is used as an abode by a local community in the Semporna District.

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to NYL and
Brunei Press Sdn Bhd.


Sited on 43 acres of lush green jungle, Sabah State Museum on the Old Palace Hill (Bukit Istana Lama) in Kota Kinabalu, is a unique museum which houses in one place the museum proper, an ethno botanical garden, a zoological garden as well as a heritage village.

The museum can be reached by taking the state museum bus from opposite the General Post Office in Kota Kinabalu or by taxi. A twenty-minute walk along Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, past the Catholic Sacred Heart Cathedral and the Sabah State Mosque will also bring you to the museum.

I decided to take a taxi to the museum during my recent visit to Kota Kinabalu in December.

"You must see the Bryde's whale in the museum," said Ahmad, my taxi driver, as he drove up the hill.

"The last time I came here, the museum only showed some of the bones. But I think the full exhibition should be ready by now," he added.

Sure enough, when I reached the museum I saw the skeleton of the Bryde's whale displayed in the museum foyer.

The giant 68-feet-Bryde's whale had beached on a shallow reef at Gaya Bay opposite Kota Kinabalu on December 15, 2006 and returned to die at the same spot two days later despite being successfully re-floated.

Besides the main attraction in the central exhibition hall, the museum has six major galleries: Islamic Civilisation, Archaeology and History, Natural History, Art, Ceramic and Brassware and Traditional Costumes.

An annex building is the Science and Education Centre which houses the Geology Gallery, an exhibition on petroleum industry, copper mining in Sabah and a current exhibition on broadcasting technology.

Next to the Science Centre are the Multivision Theatre and the Sabah Art Gallery, which is operated by the Sabah Cultural Board.

The museum buildings are styled after Murut and Rungus longhouses and set in exotic grounds that are home to several splendid steam engines.

Fronting the museum is an ethno botanical garden whose range of tropical plants is best experienced on one of the free-guided tours. The garden consists of plants from which are derived sources of food as well as ritual and building materials used by the local communities.

Situated within the gardens is the Kampung Warisan or Heritage Village which displays replicas of traditional houses representing Sabah's major tribes, as well as a Lepa boat. This boat is used as an abode by a local community in the Semporna District.

The houses were built by the various ethnic groups themselves to ensure quality and authenticity of each of the houses. They reflect the skills of the local people in the past in utilising existing building materials from their environment. These houses are also furnished with artefacts to create a true atmosphere.

The traditional houses display the beauty of traditional architecture which incorporates various cultural aspects of the ethnic groups of Sabah that can be appreciated by all generations as well as visitors to the state. The village and the gardens are integrated to reflect the inter-relationship between man and his environment.

Huts, which are used for daily activities, such as feasts or ceremonies, were also built in the village. On certain occasions, traditional music is played to enliven the village atmosphere.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

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