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3°8′15.29″N 101°41′14.60″E / 3.1375806°N 101.6873889°E / 3.1375806; 101.6873889

National Museum
Muzium Negara
موزيوم نݢارا
National Museum in 2022
LocationJalan Damansara, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
TypeNational museum
Public transit accessKL Sentral (KTM Komuter, KJ Line and Monorail)
Muzium Negara (SBK MRT)
Frieze depicting Malaysian history at the National Museum

The National Museum (Malay: Muzium Negara) is a museum located in Jalan Damansara, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The museum is situated in close proximity to the Perdana Lake Gardens and it provides an overview of Malaysian history and culture. Its facade comprises elements from both traditional Malay and modern features. It was inaugurated on 31 August 1963,[1] and it serves as a repository of Malaysia's cultural and historical heritage.[2]

The National Museum is a three-story structure, 109.7 metres (359 ft 11 in) long and 15.1 metres (49 ft 6 in) wide, which is 37.6 metres (123 ft 4 in) high at the central point. The museum houses four main galleries allotted to ethnology and natural history (geology). The displays range from free-standing tableaux showing cultural events like weddings, festivals and costumes; to traditional weapons, musical instruments, arts and crafts, ceramics, and flora and fauna.[3]


The Old Selangor Museum

Selangor Museum was the de facto national museum pre-independence.[4] Selangor Museum was established in 1887 as an amateur affair by colonial civil servants.[5] It was taken over by the colonial government, and following the formation of the Federated Malay States in 1896, in 1904 it was administratively merged with the Perak Museum in Taiping as the Federated Malay States Museums under director Leonard Wray Jr.[6] A purpose-built museum building designed by prominent architect Arthur Benison Hubback opened in 1907.[7]

The old Selangor Museum

The Selangor Museum collection grew rapidly under curator, then director, Herbert Christopher Robinson.[8] Other notable staff at Selangor Museum included Cecil Boden Kloss and Eibert Carl Henry Seimund.[9] The museum also hired hunters and collectors from Sarawak, including Charles Ulok.[10] Much of the museum collectors’ zoological field work focussed on the hills and mountains of the peninsula's central states, Fraser's Hill, Genting Highlands, Cameron Highlands, laying a foundation for the prominence of these hill resorts in Malaysia today.[11][10] The museum had a major expedition to Gunung Tahan in 1905.[12][13] They also collected in Southern Thailand[14] and Indonesia. The expeditions and collections were written about in the Journal of the Federated Malay States Museums.[15] Collected specimens were routinely transferred to the British Museum (Natural History),[12] some were sent to Liverpool Museums in 1914,[10] and the vertebrate collections were fully transferred from Selangor Museum to the Raffles Museum of Singapore in 1926.[5]

On 10 March 1945, during the end of World War II, the right wing of the museum was bombed and destroyed[16] by the US B-29 bombers, from the Allied Forces.[17] The remaining museum collection was then moved to the Perak Museum in Taiping.[18]

After World War II, the left wing of Selangor Museum was still in use as a historical site. On the brink of independence of the Federation of Malaya, Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman conceived the idea to build a museum to house national historical and cultural treasures[4] as well as specimens of flora and fauna. The old museum structure was completely demolished to make way for the new museum. The new National Museum, Muzium Negara, was established on the site of the former Selangor Museum.[1]

Design and construction

Avalokitesvara found at Bidor, 8th-9th century CE
View into the main hall

Construction began on the new museum in 1959 and was complete in 1963. The National Museum was officially opened on 31 August 1963 by Tuanku Syed Putra Ibni al-Marhum Syed Hassan Jamalullal, the 3rd Yang di-Pertuan Agong.[19]

The museum was designed by architect Ho Kok Hoe, who was inspired by the architecture of the Malay royal palaces and vernacular Malay architecture. The design incorporated the need for exhibition and activity spaces. The large mosaic murals spanning the entrance depict the history and culture of the country. The floor of the central section of the main building is decorated with special tiles which were gifts from the government of Pakistan. In addition, UNESCO facilitated consultancies by museum experts from other museums around the world.[citation needed]

On 4 April 1996, the building was gazette under the Antiquities Act 169/1976 as an ancient monument and historical site.[citation needed]

Museum Volunteer Malaysia (MVM)

In 2007 cultural and history enthusiasts residing in the greater Kuala Lumpur area formed, with the support of the Department of National Museums, a group of volunteer museum tour guides to accommodate the growing number of international tourists. At any time, between 20 and 100 volunteers of many nationalities provide tours in English, Korean, Japanese, and French. A related group was established for Malaysian visitors, operating primarily on weekends.[citation needed]

MVM also promotes Malaysian cultural and historical heritage in schools and organizing tours for members to places around Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia, such as a visit to Kuala Kangsar and Georgetown, Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary,[20][21] Royal Selangor in Setapak and celebrating the Hari Moyang in the Hma' Meri Orang Asli village in Pulau Carey. The group also organizes talks and classes about the cultural and historical heritage of the country.[citation needed]

In 2009, MVM organized the "Jom Main" Exhibition with the collaboration of National Museum, which revisits traditional games that children in Malaysia used to play.[citation needed]


Displays and exhibits in the museum focus on local history, culture and traditions, arts and crafts, economic activities, local flora and fauna, weapons and currency.[citation needed]

The museum houses various galleries, each with its own theme. The ground floor showcases the geographic and natural history of the Malay peninsula starting with the Stone Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms to Muslim sultanate of Malacca. The ancient Malay HinduBuddhist states of Gangga Negara, Srivijaya and Majapahit are referenced. Among the collections are the stone makara statue, the bronze Avalokiteshvara of Bidor, the model of Bujang Valley temple in Kedah, and also displaying region's ancient legacy such as Javan Borobudur and Majapahit vessel. The exhibit continues to the later Muslim Sultanate of Malacca and the various states of Malaysia. The display demonstrates the importance of Malaccan sultanate for Malaysian national identity. The second floor is dedicated to the colonial history leading all the way to Independence. There are copies of the royal headgear of Malay rulers.

Traditional carts

Other galleries include the National Sports Gallery and the Natural History Gallery.[citation needed]

In the vicinity of the museum building, there are a number of outdoor displays of transportation in Malaysia, past and present. The Melaka Bullock Cart exhibit closely resembles the early American horse-drawn wagon. Of unparalleled interest are the Steam Locomotive made by Kitson & Co, England, which was put into service in 1921 until it ceased operation in 1969. It covered 1.5 million rail miles; a Tin Dredge which resembles a floating factory, on a natural or artificial lake. Also on display are motorized vehicles, including antiqued civic vehicles and private vehicles, including an early 1.3 liter Proton Saga, the first national car launched on July 9, 1985[citation needed]. In addition, there are two monuments in the grounds: a bronze bust of King Edward VII, and a statue of Sir Frank Swettenham.

National Museum also holds regular thematic exhibitions featuring specific aspects of life and world culture.[citation needed]

Central Hall

Adorning the floor of the Central Hall are blue geometric-design mosaic tiles from Pakistan, with intricate carved panels on the ceiling of the hall. The Central Hall houses temporary exhibitions, and thematic and special exhibitions are held at this hall at intervals to promote an awareness of the country's diverse culture and heritage. Foreign exhibitions are held occasionally.[citation needed]

Past exhibitions have included 'The Islamic Civilization', 'Our King', 'The World of Flowers', 'Durian King of Fruits', 'Masks from Sarawak', 'World Currency', 'Islamic Frontiers of China', 'American Frontiers', and 'Religious Architecture from the Netherlands'.[citation needed]

The museum places strong emphasis on the Malay World, and a considerable section is devoted to the founding of the United Malay National Organization, one of the parties of the National Front (Barisan Nasional). There are few if any mentions of the involvement of the Malayan Chinese Association and the Malayan Indian Congress, which three parties worked together to achieve Independence of Malaya on 31 August 1957.[citation needed]

Istana Satu

Istana Satu

Another attraction of the museum is an original-size old Terengganu timber palace known as Istana Satu. It was erected by Sultan Zainal Abidin III, Sultan of Terengganu in 1884 in the compound of Kota Istana Maziah, Kuala Terengganu. This building is of Terengganu Malay traditional architecture, in the form called "Rumah Tiang Dua Belas". The wood used is cengal. Istana Satu was erected in the National Museum compound in April 1974.[citation needed]

The restored palace is a wooden house designed for the tropics, with stilts that allow air to circulate freely under the building and a steep thatch roof to cool the interior. There are intricate wood carvings on the doors and windows.[citation needed]

Next to the Istana Satu are two keliriengs or burial poles. A kelirieng is made of a huge hardwood tree trunk, carved from the top to bottom. Niched up to its sides is a space for the bodies of slaves and followers and hollowed at the top to place the jar containing the chief's bones.[citation needed]


Public transportation

Muzium Negara is situated just behind, and lends its name to, the underground  KG15  Muzium Negara MRT station. The station (not the museum) is connected to  KA01  KS01  KJ15  KE1  KT1  MR1  KL Sentral via a 200-metre (660 ft) long walkway.[citation needed] Access from the museum to the walkway to KL Sentral requires passing through the ticketed area of the Muzium Negara MRT station and the purchase of a train ticket.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Muzium Negara". Tourism Malaysia. Archived from the original on 25 May 2014. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  2. ^ "Muzium Negara". Retrieved 24 December 2022.
  3. ^ "National Museum, Malaysia - Virtual Tour". Joy of Museums Virtual Tours. Retrieved 24 December 2022.
  4. ^ a b Abu Talib Ahmad (2014). Museums, history, and culture in Malaysia. NUS Press. p. 4. ISBN 978-9971-69-819-5. OCLC 951429389.
  5. ^ a b Tan, Kevin Y. L. (2016). Of whales and dinosaurs : the story of Singapore's Natural History Museum. pp. 80–83. ISBN 978-9971-69-855-3. OCLC 953692385.
  6. ^ Wells, David (2007). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula : covering Burma and Thailand south of the eleventh parallel, Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. Christopher Helm. p. 728. ISBN 978-1-4081-3313-2. OCLC 659739244.
  7. ^ Federated Malay States.; States, Federated Malay; Museum, Perak State; Museum, Selangor State (1906). Journal of the Federated Malay States Museums. Vol. 2. Kuala Lumpur: the Museums.
  8. ^ "Herbert Christopher Robinson". Ibis. 71 (3): 523–531. 13 May 2008. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.1929.tb08772.x.
  9. ^ "Search Results". Retrieved 7 March 2023.
  10. ^ a b c Wilson, John-James (2021). "Colonial birding in the Thai-Malay Peninsula: Birds from the Selangor Museum now in World Museum, Liverpool". Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. 94 (2): 121–139. ISSN 2180-4338.
  11. ^ Weebers, Robert C. M.; Idris, Hanizah (29 December 2016). "BRITISH HILL STATIONS IN SOUTH ASIA AND MAINLAND SOUTH EAST ASIA: BRITISH INDIA, CEYLON, BURMA AND BRITISH MALAYA: A COMPARATIVE STUDY". Journal of Southeast Asian Studies. 21 (1): 175–190. doi:10.22452/jati.vol21no1.9. ISSN 1823-4127.
  12. ^ a b Shaughnessy, Elaine (3 September 2020). "The 1905 ascent of Mount Tahan (Malaysia) and fate of the bird collection". Society for the History of Natural History. Retrieved 7 March 2023.
  13. ^ Xmpsp (17 May 2008). "iNfO LiPaTaN SeJaRaH : KONSPIRASI GUNUNG TAHAN". iNfO LiPaTaN SeJaRaH. Retrieved 7 March 2023.
  14. ^ Association, Natural Sciences Collections (18 February 2021). "Time To Figure Out Where Specimens Are Really From". NatSCA. Retrieved 7 March 2023.
  15. ^ Federated Malay States.; States, Federated Malay; Museum, Perak State; Museum, Selangor State (1905). Journal of the Federated Malay States Museums. Kuala Lumpur: the Museums.
  16. ^ Alan Teh Leam Seng (7 May 2017). "Museum that rose from ashes". New Straits Times.
  17. ^ "Muzium Negara". Archived from the original on 9 February 2013. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
  18. ^ "Malaysia National Museum , Kuala Lumpur | Malaysia". Retrieved 24 December 2022.
  19. ^ "Muzium Negara". Kuala Lumpur City Hall. Archived from the original on 7 June 2012. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
  20. ^ Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary (Temerloh) Archived 18 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Tourism Pahang.
  21. ^ Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary, Endemic Guides.
  22. ^ "Profil Tan Sri Datuk Dr. Haji Abdul Mubin Sheppard" (in Malay). Arkib Negara Malaysia.
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Sejarah - Ketua Pengarah Jabatan Muzium Malaysia" (in Malay). Jabatan Muzium Malaysia. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  24. ^ Noraini Abd. Razak (3 April 2011). "Muzium jadi darah daging". Utusan Malaysia (in Malay). Archived from the original on 18 January 2017. Retrieved 18 January 2017.

Further reading

  • Lenzi, Iola (2004). Museums of Southeast Asia. Singapore: Archipelago Press. p. 200. ISBN 981-4068-96-9.
  • Harris, Mark (1990). National Museum, Kuala Lumpur: History and culture of Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur: Syarikat S. Abdul Majeed, Pub. Division. p. 88 pages. ISBN 978-983-9629-15-6.
  • Gold jewellery and ornaments: In the collection of Muzium Negara, Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur: Persatuan Muzium Malaysia. 1988. p. 243 pages. ISBN 978-983-9579-00-0.
  • Haji Ali, Mohamed Kassim (1988). Masks of Sarawak in the collection of Muzium Negara Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur: Museums Association of Malaysia. p. 111 pages. ASIN B0006EHZ58.
  • bin Mohd. Yatim, Othman (1981). Chinese Islamic wares in the collection of Muzium Negara (Series on the ceramics collection of Muzium Negara). Kuala Lumpur: Muzium Negara. p. 99 pages. ASIN B0006E7THM.

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