Kuala Lumpur is a home to a diverse selection of museums. If you think museums are some boring places, then you’re wrong! With all the technology we have today, museums have evolved to become very interactive with their stunning artifacts and exhibitions. Take a walk through history at these 5 museums in KL. Trust me, it is definitely worthy to discover, explore and learn about our country’s rich and storied history and culture.
- National Museum of Malaysia
The National Museum is located at Jalan Damansara in Kuala Lumpur. It provides a complete overview of Malaysia’s history and culture. In addition, it is an excellent introduction to Malaysia’s history, economy, geography, arts, crafts and culture. The National Museum is erected on the site of the Selangor Museum, which was destroyed during WWII in March 1945. Then, the idea of the National Museum’s construction was triggered in 1957 and was officially announced in 1959. Malaysia’s Third Yang di-Pertuan Agong on officiated the opening on 31 August 1963.
The architecture of the Malay royal palaces and vernacular Malay architecture were the inspirations of the museum’s design. The building has a sweeping, traditional Minangkabau-style roof. Furthermore, there are two large murals of Italian glass mosaic at the main entrance. The murals portray Malaysia’s major historical events and cultural activities. The National Museum is a three-storey building, comprising four main galleries allocated to natural history and ethnology. For instance, the four halls are the Prehistoric gallery, the Malay Kingdoms, the Colonial era and Malaysia Today.
The National Museum provides different languages guided tours, which include English, French, Japanese, Korean, Malay and Mandarin (upon request with two weeks advance notice). Meanwhile, it is definitely worth spending a few hours here to explore the artifacts, cultural artworks, arts and crafts that continue to preserve its identity until the present day.
- Orang Asli Crafts Museum
Orang Asli Crafts Museum is located at the lower ground floor of the Malay-World Ethnology Museum. It is a dedicated building within the grounds of the National Museum of Malaysia. Hence, you can have a 2-in-1 visit when you are in the area. It is an interesting museum that showcases a valuable collection of traditional arts and handicrafts of the Orang Asli people. Orang Asli are the indigenious communities who reside mostly in the rural areas across Peninsular Malaysia.
The museum may be relatively small, but it is packed with various informative displays. You may get to view the gallery of wood carvings and masks from different ethnic groups’ origins, traditions and animist beliefs. For instance, the interesting exhibits include traditional musical instruments, hunting tools and weapons of the Orang Asli.
- Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia
The Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia is located at Jalan Lembah Perdana. It is located within walking distance to the National Mosque, Bird Park and Lake Gardens. The museum is the largest museum of Islamic Arts in Southeast Asia. Moreover, it is one of the best museums in Malaysia with over 7000 top quality artifacts from all over the Islamic world.
The museum features a huge blue turquoise dome on top of the building and glass walls that allow natural light to flow in. Besides, the domed ceilings were adorned with intricate Islamic patterns and it has a 30,000 square metres exhibition space. It houses 12 main galleries on the two upper floors. For example, the 12 themes include: the Islamic Architecture Gallery, the Quran and Manuscripts Gallery, the India Gallery, the Chinese Gallery, and the Ancient Malay World Gallery on Level 3. On the other hand, Level 4 hosts a display of textile, ceramics, jewellery, arms and armour as well as the Islamic glassware.
The Islamic Arts Museum is a must-visit place if you would like to appreciate the beauty of religion of Islam and understand the stories behind its recurring artistic motifs.
- National Textile Museum
The National Textile Museum is located within Merdeka Square along Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin. It is housed in a beautiful Mughal-Islamic style old heritage building. It was originally completed in 1905 to house the headquarters for the Federated Malay States Railways (FMSR, which is now known as KTM). The building has housed various government and commercial occupants before being converted to the National Textile Museum. This museum is one of the most significant heritage landmarks in Kuala Lumpur city centre. It was then opened to the public in 2010.
The museum showcases the development, techniques and technologies of local textiles in Malaysia. The two-storey museum housed four distinctive galleries, which are Pohon Budi Gallery, Pelangi Gallery, Teluk Berantai Gallery, and Ratna Sari Gallery. Furthermore, each gallery features different collections of traditional apparel, accessories and textiles in Malaysia. This place is much more interesting than you may expect and definitely worth a quick visit!
- Kuala Lumpur City Gallery
Kuala Lumpur City Gallery is housed in the 115-year old former Government Printing Office. It is a colonial-style building beside Dataran Merdeka. It is owned by ARCH, a Malaysian commercial concern that makes and sells 3D wooden pictures and models of famous landmarks around the world, other collectables and gifts. The gallery is curated for tourists to deliver the history of the city of Kuala Lumpur through a collection of paintings and photos, as well as miniature mock ups of the famous city landmarks.
The main galleries consist of photos and maps of Kuala Lumpur from its old mining town days to its current capital hub status for Malaysia. The photos and paintings come with short yet informative written summaries describing the event. Moreover, some even provide audio snippets. The highlight in this gallery is The Spectacular City Model Show, which is the largest and first such kind in Malaysia. The massive model (12m x 15m) showcases the city’s past, present and future through an immersive light and sound presentation!
KL City Gallery is not really a museum. Yet, it serves as a Tourist Information Centre where visitors are able to get a free copy of the Kuala Lumpur Walks and Tours Map.