My wife and I have this thing about museums. Some I like, some she likes, some we both like and some we both don’t like.
I guess it got something to do with the museum itself – the concept, the layout, the museum’s choice of exhibits, its ambience and that little unquantifiable thing called ‘the X-factor’ that makes or break a museum for visitors to the museum.
When we were in Kuala Terengganu or KT as it is more commonly known, recently, it came to our knowledge that the Terengganu State Museum is located nearby at a place called Kg Bukit Losong, Paloh, which is actually in KT itself.
Why the big deal about the museum? Well, when we last there in 1996, the Terengganu museum had yet to officially exist then.
And being a museum, it could be said to be the place where one can get a crash course in local history ; a fun and very interesting way to learn about all things local.
As we made our way there, we discovered that not far from the museum itself, is another of KT’s tourist attractions namely the Taman Tamaddun Islam (literally translated as The Islamic Civilization Park).
For the uninitiated, the main attraction as far as Taman Tamaddun Islam is concerned is the famed Crystal Mosque. But that is another story and another post.
Since it is our very intention to make our stay in KT this time around as memorable and enjoyable as it can possibly be, and to take the opportunity to explore what the transformed KT had to offer, we made plans to visit the Terengganu State Museum first and, weather permitting, amongst others, the Taman Tamaddun Islam later.
After making our way to the museum and parking our car in the more than ample parking lot, we made our way to the museum’s entrance proper.
As we made our way towards the museum’s entrance, it dawned on us that this museum is HUGE and IMPRESSIVE.
One could not help but notice that a lot of effort and expense had been invested to make this museum live up to its status as THE state museum.
The landscape is tastefully done, with the pathway leading to the museum’s entrance preparing the visitor for what should be a fun day at the museum.
We paid the entrance fees at RM10 per adult (circa USD2.50-USD3.00), took a complimentary copy of the museum’s brochure and started our exploration of what is the Terengganu State Museum.
Reading from the bits of trivia that is the brochure, it was stated that the museum was designed by a well-known Malaysian architect, YM Raja Dato’ Kamarul Bahrin Shah, who also happens to be related to the royal family of Terengganu himself.
The museum was officiated on 20 April 1996 by the late Sultan of Terengganu, AlMarhum Sultan Mahmud AlMuktafi Billah Shah and is built on 23 hectares of land.
Local Malay architecture forms the basis for the design of the museum, with the concept based on the local architecture of the ‘Rumah Tele’ or ‘Rumah Bujang Serambi’.
The museum itself is made up of nine different galleries : the Royal Gallery, the Historical Gallery, the Textile Gallery, the Islamic Gallery, the Handicraft Gallery, the Natural Resources Gallery, the Shipping and Trading Gallery, and the Fisheries and Marine Parks Gallery.
My favourites in any museum that I have visited have always been the history of the state, how it came to be, its politics, its administration, the personalities who helped shaped the state, its weaponry and its culture.
Luckily for me, as in all museums, every exhibit on display is accompanied by a narrative.
The quality of the narratives is of great importance as it plays a big role in getting first-time visitors like me to understand the story these exhibits want to tell, and tells you why they were chosen as exhibits in the first place.
The centrepiece of the Terengganu State Museum has to be the ‘Batu Bersurat’. Literally, it means ‘Lettered Stone’. But in reality, the ‘Batu Bersurat’ is of great significance to the history of the state of Terengganu.
The ‘Batu Bersurat’ was discovered in Kuala Berang, Hulu Terengganu (the interior part of the state) in 1887.
Estimated at 700 years old, the ‘Batu Bersurat’ narrates the position of Islam and application of Islamic laws in Terengganu state. The narration is written in Malay using the Jawi script which is based on Arabic characters.
The significance of ‘Batu Bersurat’, which often escapes everyone’s attention, is that being 700 years old, it dates back to circa 1326.
Regardless of its exact age, it establishes that Islam had already came to that part of the world well before the Melaka Sultanate came into being circa 1400.
If anything, that is what you would call a very important piece of history.
There are other interesting exhibits as well, amongst them are the potraits of all the Chief Ministers of the State of Terengganu dating back to the first Chief Minister of the state,
Thats a long array of potraits, many of whom have long departed except for the recent few, who apparently are still active in politics.
Then there are the exhibits with pictures of Terengganu from days gone by. It would not be surprising if some of the exhibits are actually pictures contributed by the Royal Family of Terengganu itself.
The state of Terengganu is famous for its textiles. Terengganu batik and songket is very much sought after and can fetch quite a good price in the market for practitioners of the craft.
Worn at both official functions and festivities, Terengganu batik and songket is a must have. When you can afford it, that is.
Knowing the contribution of textiles to the state of Terengganu, economically and culturally, the museum’s Textile Gallery narrates and exhibits the development and the history of the textile industry in the state of Terengganu.
Brassware is another form of handicraft that is synonymous with the state. People come from far and wide to Terengganu, just to get good quality brasswares.
These are just some of the exhibits that you can find at the Terengganu State Museum and they are many more other interesting exhibits, depending on one’s interests.
All in all, it has been a very educational and fun visit, exploring the Terengganu State Museum. It is money well invested by the State Government, the Terengganu State Museum, with the chosen exhibits showcasing the glory of Terengganu’s history and culture (including its arts and crafts) for all to see and admire.
Definitely worth its entrance fee and definitely worth another visit.
Date : 13 June 2015