Sarawak Islamic Museum

Andrea and I stopped by the Dewan Tun Abdul Razak Museum to pick up some documentation. We were actually already on the way out when we passed the back of the Islamic Museum and the building looked rather interesting. Since the both of us never been inside, we decided to drop in.

Who would have thought the Islamic Museum would be so facinating?

Okay, anyone with an interest in old things should find something to stare at here, but I was never really drawn to visit because the education system effectively killed my interest in anything local, historical or Islamic. After having an unexpectedly fun time at the interactive exhibition on the contribution of Islamic scientists at the Dewan Tun Abdul Razak Museum, I was a little more open to the experience.

The building itself is beautiful. It was two panels of stained glass with what I assume is a Quran verse in its design. I spotted the one in front from the outside, but it was even more breathtaking from the inside when the sunlight lights the whole thing up. I wish I could take photographs, but alas, no photo-taking in museums.

There are seven galleries in all:
1 – History of the coming of Islam to the Malay-Indonesia Archipelago
2 – Islamic Architeture
3 – Science, technology, economics, education and literature
4 – Music and costumes
5 – Weaponary
6 – Decorative arts and domestic utensils
7 – The Holy Quran corner

I didn't read the information much although I tried in the beginning. The exhibits were much more interesting. Pen boxes, charm holders, furniture, carved windows and doors, decorative tiles, armour, weapons, pots, camel saddles and musical instruments!

Normally I won't touch any of the exhibits but there was a chainmail shirt hanging there and I couldn't resist. I only picked up an edge and that little bit is already so heavy.

The swords and spears and picks are droolworthy. Shiny stabbity things! Yeah, I'm facinated by ancient weapons.

That gallery even had what we take to be old illustrations on how to properly handle certain weapons. The art looked rather Japanese-inspired because it reminds me of traditional Japanese art you find in temples and old documents, only in black and white. Some of the other art looked Persian and Indian, but that comes as no surprise.

The old furniture were also close enough to touch. Some of them were inlaid with mother-of-pearl and some are so small they looked like they were made for kids or a small adult.

When we were at the opening of the Textile Museum, I noticed that there were no "Do not touch" signs there either. Being textile, the urge to touch is almost instinctive! I mentioned this to one of the museum people and he only smiled but offered no explanation.

There was no notice not to touch at the Islamic Museum either and I'm beginning to wonder if this was intentional. Some of the exhibits are sturdy enough for minor handling, so why not? After all, the most fragile or irreplacable objects are locked in glass cases.

The museum is open to the public everyday except for major festive occasions. Opening hours are 9am – 6pm. Admission is free.

Author: Georgette Tan

writer . poet . introvert . NSFW hand letterer . equatorial eclectic


  1. The Islamic Museum used to be the Sekolah Madrasah. My father was a student there together with a few key government people now in Malaysia. If I’m not mistaken the previous Governor was a teacher/headmaster there as well.

  2. Hmmmm I am one of those who has been ignorant of the existence of this museum. My excuse is that until 5 years ago, I was out of the country. Anyway its now on my list of places to visit.

    Thks for sharing this info. Btw do u know if they allow photography inside?

  3. FH2O: Photography isn’t allowed inside unless you have permission from the Museum Director. (That’s why we were at the TAR Museum.) Even then, you need to have a reason for wanting to photograph (i.e. publication, etc.) which has to be cleared beforehand.

    The outside and anything they left out there can be photographed though. ;-) Have fun!

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