This Kuching landmark is the finest museum in Southeast Asia. For over a century, a succession of conscientious curators have collected and catalogued the single most extensive archive and exhibit of Bornean history, art and ethnography anywhere in the world.
As the most prominent repository of Bornean culture, the Sarawak Museum is also an active patron of wide-ranging academic research. The excavations at Niah Caves, which unearthed the oldest known evidence of human settlement in Borneo, were conducted under the auspices of the Sarawak Museum. A reconstruction of the prehistoric settlement at Niah Cave is on permanent display. Other notable exhibits include the history of Sarawak, a reconstruction of native longhouses, tribal art, Malay and Chinese artifacts, and local flora and fauna. Behind the Sarawak Museum there is an aquarium, and a picturesque landscaped garden.
There is a curious story behind the design of the Museum. It was commissioned by the second White Rajah, Charles Brooke, and resembles a Normandy town house. The Rajah, however, distrusted architects. The Museum was eventually designed by the Rajah’s butler – a native of Normandy!
Completed in 1891, the Museum was extended in 1911. But the number of exhibits continued to grow. Another extension, across the road from the original museum site and connected by a footbridge, was built in the 1970s.
After visiting the new wing across the road, wander around the museum grounds and proceed to the Sarawak Islamic Museum.