Museums today are no longer just for history and art. Malaysia is home to many creative museums, some of which remain relatively unknown to locals. Take a look at some of our quirkiest and most fascinating museums from across the country
Kuching Cat Museum, Kuching
The Kuching Cat Museum is not the only cat museum in the world, but it holds a special place in everyone’s hearts for being located in a city whose name means ‘cat’ in Malay. There is much debate over the origins of the city name but since Kuching locals happily adopted the animal as their city mascot, having a cat museum makes perfect sense. Established by former state chief minister Abdul Taib Mahmud and his wife in 1993, the museum houses a large collection of quirky cat-themed art and memorabilia ranging from adorable to outright bizarre. The museum is not in the most convenient location, situated away from the city centre in Petra Jaya, but makes for an interesting attraction for cat lovers.
Galeria Perdana, Langkawi
Established in 1995, Galeria Perdana is a special gallery showcasing all the gifts, souvenirs and awards received by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his wife from international delegates, statesmen and various prominent figures and organisations during his long tenure as the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia. The huge complex comprising three blocks houses an impressive collection of over 9,000 items which are exhibited on rotation. Although located somewhat out of the way in Kampung Kilim, Langkawi, visitors who enjoy exploring various artifacts, artwork and even vehicles will find themselves easily investing more than two hours to explore the gallery.
Muzium Rakyat, Melaka
The People’s Museum (Muzium Rakyat) in Melaka is made up of a number of mini-museums all under one roof, located on separate floors. In addition to the main section on Malaysia’s ethnic groups as well as sections displaying traditional culture and pastimes, of particular note in this building is the Beauty Museum (Muzium Kecantikan) on the second floor. This collection exhibits different perceptions of beauty around the world and the practices associated with them, from tattoos to body piercings, filled discs, lip plates, neck rings and even foot bindings. The People’s Museum is located along the historic Jalan Kota, which is lined with many other museums that guests can spend the whole day visiting.
Wonderfood Museum, Penang
Ask any Malaysian what they love the best about their country and one of the first answers is guaranteed to be the local food. It makes perfect sense that a country so in love with their local cuisine has a whole museum dedicated to local delicacies. Established in George Town, Penang just a few years ago, the Wonderfood Museum has exhibits with realistic plastic models of food from all of Malaysia’s favourite cuisines, handcrafted through Japanese food replication techniques. The vividly colourful and photo-friendly exhibits have been a huge hit with tourists so far, and it is only fitting that this museum was established in a city known for good food.
Time Tunnel, Cameron Highlands
When visiting Cameron Highlands, be sure to stop by the Time Tunnel in Brinchang. Also referred to as The Local Museum, Time Tunnel houses a large collection of memorabilia, artefacts and collectables from yesteryears. Owned and curated by Cameron Highlands local See Kok Shan, older guests will get a sense of nostalgia exploring the various items from old photographs to posters and advertisements as well as furniture set up in the style of an old coffee shop and barber shop. Look out for the place on the outskirts of Brinchang, along the same row as a strawberry farm on the main road.
Teddyville Museum, Penang
Adding to the long list of museums already located in Penang is the Teddyville Museum, a teddy bear museum located on the premises of the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton, Penang in Batu Ferringhi. While the first room of the museum has exhibits detailing the history of teddy bears with some highly valuable old teddy bears on display, the rest of the museum becomes an adorable teddy bear gallery that tells stories about Penang’s history and multiculturalism in Malaysia. Be sure to get pictures of the detailed little panorama exhibits and take pictures with giant teddy bear versions of famous Penangites such as P.Ramlee, Datuk Jimmy Choo, Datuk Lee Chong Wei and Datuk Nicol David.
Submarine Museum, Melaka
Though not nearly as famous as Melaka’s Maritime Museum with its life-sized replica of the Flor de la Mar, Melaka is also home to Malaysia’s only Submarine Museum. For a modest fee, visitors can explore the inside of a real decommissioned French Agosta 70 class submarine to learn about the vessel’s living and working conditions. Many of the submarine’s original equipment such as its torpedo launching platform, torpedo bays, engine room and navigational and communications equipment remain on display inside the cramped vessel. The museum is located well outside the city though, in a somewhat secluded location in Pantai Klebang, where visitors can also explore food stalls and trucks selling the local specialty, coconut shakes.
Penang Asia Comic Cultural Museum
If you happen to be visiting Komtar in George Town, Penang, check out this gem on the second floor. Even if you aren’t a fan of comics, the Penang Asia Comic Cultural Museum has a surprising wealth of information on the development of comics and cartoons in nine Asian countries, the icons that pioneered the industry and how they influenced and shaped the local culture and political climate. The museum is equal parts entertaining and educational, filled with colourful artwork and figures to take photos with.