Borneo Cultures Museum: Exploring the Heart of Sarawak’s Indigenous Cultures

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The Ultimate Visitor’s Guide to the Borneo Cultures Museum, Sarawak

Nestled in the vibrant city of Kuching, Sarawak, the Borneo Cultures Museum stands as a beacon of cultural preservation and a testament to the rich tapestry of cultures that have woven the history of this fascinating Borneo Island. Opened to the public in 2022, this museum has rapidly become one of Malaysia’s premier cultural institutions, offering a deep dive into the region’s indigenous cultures, natural history, and colonial past. The museum boasts an impressive collection of artifacts, exhibits, and interactive displays that bring Sarawak’s diverse ethnic groups and their traditions to life. Whether you are a history buff, a cultural enthusiast, or simply a curious traveler, the Borneo Cultures Museum promises a captivating experience. Let’s explore what this magnificent museum has to offer.

Borneo Cultures Museum
Borneo Cultures Museum

Introduction to the Borneo Cultures Museum

The Borneo Cultures Museum is the largest museum in Malaysia and one of the largest in Southeast Asia. It covers an impressive 31,000 square meters and is housed in a state-of-the-art building that reflects modern architecture while honoring traditional Bornean design elements. The museum is dedicated to preserving and showcasing the cultural and natural heritage of Borneo, with a particular focus on Sarawak.

Borneo Cultures Museum Facade
Borneo Cultures Museum

Location

The Borneo Cultures Museum is strategically located in the heart of Kuching, the capital of Sarawak, right next to Padang Merdeka. This central location makes it easily accessible to both locals and tourists. Here’s a quick guide on how to reach the museum, along with its operational details.

How to Go – Borneo Cultures Museum

How to Go – Borneo Cultures Museum

Mode of Transportation Details
By Cars The most convenient ways to go to Borneo Cultures Museum is probably by cars, whether you are coming from Kuching International Airport, Hotels in Kuching or other area in Kuching division. You can choose either normal taxi or the e-hailing cars like Grab, AirAsia MOVE or Maxim (Download Grab / Maxim / AirAsia MOVE Apps from Apps Store or Play Store).
By Driving If you’re driving, you can follow the Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg road towards the city center. Parking is available at the museum. Free parking available beside Wisma Hopoh and Majima Mall
By Bus Local buses and shuttle services frequently operate between key locations in Kuching and the museum. The nearest bus stop is within a short walking distance.
By Foot The museum is located in a pedestrian-friendly area. It’s a pleasant walk if you’re staying in or near the city center.

Opening Hours – Borneo Cultures Museum

Opening Hours – Borneo Cultures Museum

Day Opening Hours
Monday to Friday 9:00 AM – 4:45 PM
Public Holiday, Saturday, and Sunday 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM

Note: The museum is closed on the following public holidays:

  • Eid al-Fitr (First day)
  • Chinese New Year (First day)
  • Labor Day
  • Gawai Day (First day)
  • Sarawak Governor’s Birthday
  • Independence Day
  • Christmas Day

The Borneo Cultures Museum observes Malaysia’s public holidays and remains closed on these occasions. The specific holidays include the first day of Eid al-Fitr, the first day of Chinese New Year, Labor Day, the first day of Gawai Day, Sarawak Governor’s Birthday, Independence Day, and Christmas Day. To ensure the museum is open during your visit, it’s best to check Malaysia’s holiday calendar ahead of time.

Ticketing Information – Borneo Cultures Museum

Ticketing Information – Borneo Cultures Museum

Category Malaysian (Sarawakian) Malaysian (Non-Sarawakian) Foreigner (International)
12 years old and below FREE FREE RM 20.00
13 – 17 years old and students with student ID RM 5.00 RM 5.00 RM 25.00
Adult: 18 – 60 years old RM 10.00 RM 20.00 RM 50.00
Senior Citizen: 61 years old and above RM 5.00 RM 10.00 RM 25.00
Persons with disabilities registered with National Welfare Department FREE FREE FREE
Group: 10 or more persons or Registered Corporate Rate RM 8.00 per person RM 16.00 per person RM 40.00 per person
Annual: Unlimited visits RM 100.00

What to See and Do in Borneo Cultures Museum

The Borneo Cultures Museum is a treasure trove of exhibits that unveil the captivating story of Sarawak. It boasts five floors of engaging exhibits and interactive displays. Each floor offers a unique glimpse into the various facets of Borneo’s rich tapestry of cultures, histories, and ecosystems.

Unveiling Sarawak’s Cultural Tapestry

As you delve into the various galleries, prepare to be enthralled by the rich heritage, diverse customs, and captivating traditions that have shaped this extraordinary region. Here’s a glimpse into what awaits you on each floor:

Level 1: Lobby, Auditorium, Restaurant & Gift Shop

The first level of the Borneo Cultures Museum serves as a welcoming hub for visitors. Here, you begin your journey by collecting your visitor pass at the reception counter. This floor is not just for registration but also functions as a vibrant space for events, equipped with an auditorium suitable for both private and public gatherings. After exploring the thematic exhibitions on Levels 2 through 5, you can return to Level 1 to extend your museum experience. Browse the gift shop for unique souvenirs or enjoy a meal at one of the museum’s restaurants, rounding off your visit with a taste of local hospitality.

Level 2: Children’s Gallery

The Children’s Gallery, located at 2nd floor, which themed as “‘Love our Rivers’” is a great place for kids to learn about the concept of sustainability using rivers as the foundation of the exhibition narrative.

Highlights: This interactive space is specifically designed to engage children through age-appropriate exhibits and activities. Here, little ones can embark on a playful learning journey, discovering Sarawak’s cultures and traditions in a fun and interactive way and ignite the spark of curiosity in young minds.

Borneo Cultures Museum Level 2
Borneo Cultures Museum Level 2

Don’t Miss: The creative workshops and storytelling sessions that introduce children to Bornean folklore and traditions.

Borneo Cultures Museum Level 2
Borneo Cultures Museum Level 2

Level 2: Arts and Crafts Gallery

In the Arts and Crafts Gallery, visitors will find various activities that allow them to learn the skills of traditional craftsmanship, dances and music in Sarawak.

Highlights: This gallery is dedicated to the indigenous communities of Borneo, showcasing their daily lives, rituals, and craftsmanship. Key exhibits include traditional Iban longhouses, Orang Ulu carvings, and the intricate beadwork of the Bidayuh people.

Don’t Miss: The life-sized replicas of traditional longhouses and the intricate bamboo musical instruments.

Level 3: In Harmony with Nature Gallery

Step into the “In Harmony with Nature” gallery and immerse yourself in the profound connection between the people of Sarawak and their natural environment.

Borneo Cultures Museum Level 3
Borneo Cultures Museum Level 3

Highlights: This exhibition offers immersive and multisensory experiences that showcases how indigenous communities have lived in symbiosis with nature for generations, utilizing its resources sustainably and respecting its delicate balance.

Borneo Cultures Museum Level 3
Borneo Cultures Museum Level 3

Don’t Miss: The awe-inspiring skeleton of a Bryde’s whale and the interactive rainforest exhibit.

Borneo Cultures Museum Level 3
Borneo Cultures Museum Level 3

Level 4: Time Changes Gallery

The “Time Changes” Gallery at 4th floor tells the story of the Sarawak colonial history from its earliest days and the path to independence to the present modern-day Malaysia.

Highlights: Delve into Sarawak’s colonial past and its journey to becoming a part of Malaysia. The gallery showcases artifacts from the Brooke dynasty, including James Brooke’s personal belongings, and documents detailing the region’s resistance movements.

Borneo Cultures Museum War Boat
Borneo Cultures Museum War Boat

Don’t Miss: The authentic replica of a 19th-century fort and the insightful multimedia presentations on Sarawak’s modern history.

Borneo Cultures Museum Level 4
Borneo Cultures Museum Level 4 Exhibit

Level 5: Objects of Desire Gallery

Be mesmerized by the exquisite craftsmanship and artistry showcased in the “Objects of Desire” gallery at Level 5.

Highlights: This gallery displays the museum’s masterpieces and the finest examples of Sarawak’s material culture, including a collection of intricate textiles, handcrafted jewelry, and other captivating artifacts that embody the cultural heritage and aesthetic sensibilities of Sarawak’s diverse ethnic groups.

Melanao Wedding Costume
Borneo Cultures Museum Level 5 – External Trade Exhibit
Borneo Cultures Museum Level 5 Exhibit

Don’t Miss: The exquisite artifacts, such as the tribal mask, demonstrate the incredible skills in wood craftsmanship of the indigenous communities in Sarawak.

Borneo Cultures Museum – Mask

Special Events and Programs

The Borneo Cultures Museum regularly hosts a variety of events and educational programs designed to engage visitors and deepen their understanding of Borneo’s heritage. Some of the notable events include:

  • Cultural Festivals: Celebrating local festivals such as Gawai Dayak and Kaamatan with live performances, traditional music, and dance.
  • Workshops and Seminars: Covering topics from traditional crafts and cooking to conservation efforts and historical talks.
  • Temporary Exhibitions: Featuring collections from other renowned museums and private collectors, offering fresh perspectives on Bornean culture and history.

Dining and Facilities

After a day of exploration, visitors can relax and enjoy a meal at the museum’s on-site dining options.

Borneo Cultures Museum Restaurant

The Borneo Cultures Museum in Kuching, Sarawak, offers a delightful dining experience at its on-site restaurant, conveniently located on the first level. This restaurant, called Borneo Cultures Museum Restaurant, provides a serene and inviting atmosphere where visitors can take a break from exploring the museum’s extensive exhibits. The menu features a diverse selection of both local Sarawakian dishes and international cuisine, ensuring there is something to satisfy every palate. Guests can indulge in authentic flavors like the iconic Laksa Sarawak, a spicy noodle soup, or opt for familiar comfort foods like nasi goreng (fried rice).

The restaurant’s relaxed ambiance and panoramic views of the museum’s striking architecture create the perfect setting for a leisurely meal. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a more substantial lunch, Borneo Cultures Museum Restaurant caters to diverse tastes and dietary preferences, enhancing the overall cultural journey experience.

The Museum Gift Shop

Located on the 1st floor, the shop offers a range of souvenirs, including books, handcrafted items, and traditional attire. You’ll find books, clothes, postcards, art pieces, handmade soaps, food, and all sorts of Sarawak-made products and goods in this shop. It’s an excellent place to find informative resources about Borneo’s history and culture.
Popular Items:
Books on Borneo’s history, culture, and wildlife
Educational toys and games
Museum-branded apparel and accessories
Postcards and prints featuring museum exhibits

Other Facilities

  • Accessibility: The museum is fully accessible, with ramps, elevators, and dedicated services for visitors with disabilities.
  • Guided Tours: Available for groups and individual visitors, providing deeper insights into the exhibits with knowledgeable guides.

Planning Your Visit

Whether you are planning a solo visit or a family trip, the Borneo Cultures Museum offers a wealth of experiences to enrich your understanding of Sarawak and its diverse cultures. From its immersive galleries to its engaging programs, the museum stands as a testament to the region’s rich heritage and a must-visit destination in Kuching.

So, when you find yourself in Kuching Sarawak, make sure to carve out some time to explore the Borneo Cultures Museum. It’s not just a visit; it’s a journey through the heart and soul of Borneo.

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FAQ – Borneo Cultures Museum

1. What is the Borneo Cultures Museum, and what can visitors expect to see?

The Borneo Cultures Museum in Sarawak is the largest museum in Malaysia dedicated to showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Borneo. Visitors can explore diverse exhibits covering the region’s history, indigenous cultures, natural environment, and contemporary arts.

2. Where is the Borneo Cultures Museum located?

The Borneo Cultures Museum is located in Kuching, the capital city of Sarawak, Malaysia. The exact address is Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg, 93000 Kuching, Sarawak.

3. What are the museum’s operating hours?

The museum is open Monday to Friday from 9:00 AM to 4:45 PM, and on public holidays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM. It is closed on certain public holidays like Eid al-Fitr, Chinese New Year, Labor Day, Gawai Day, Sarawak Governor’s Birthday, Independence Day, and Christmas Day.

4. How much does it cost to visit the Borneo Cultures Museum?

Ticket prices vary by visitor category:

  • Malaysian (Sarawakian): Free for children under 12, RM 5.00 for students and seniors, RM 10.00 for adults, and RM 8.00 per person for groups.
  • Malaysian (Non-Sarawakian): Free for children under 12, RM 5.00 for students, RM 10.00 for seniors, RM 20.00 for adults, and RM 16.00 per person for groups.
  • Foreigner (International): RM 20.00 for children under 12, RM 25.00 for students and seniors, RM 50.00 for adults, and RM 40.00 per person for groups.
  • Annual passes for unlimited visits are RM 100.00.

5. How can visitors get to the Borneo Cultures Museum?

The museum is accessible by various means of transportation. Visitors can take a taxi, use ride-hailing services like Grab, or opt for public buses that connect major parts of Kuching to the museum. For those driving, there are parking facilities available nearby.

6. What are the must-see exhibits at the Borneo Cultures Museum?

Key highlights include the extensive collection of tribal artifacts, traditional Bornean masks, intricate wooden carvings, historical documents, and interactive displays about the indigenous communities. Each level of the museum offers a unique thematic experience, from natural history to contemporary culture.

7. Is there a place to eat at the museum?

Yes, the museum features a restaurant on the first level where visitors can enjoy a variety of meals and refreshments. It’s an ideal spot to take a break and enjoy local cuisine after exploring the museum’s exhibits.

8. Are there any special events or programs at the museum?

The Borneo Cultures Museum regularly hosts special events, exhibitions, and educational programs. It’s advisable to check their official website or contact the museum directly for information on upcoming events during your visit.

9. Can the museum host private events or functions?

Absolutely. The museum’s auditorium and function rooms on the first level are available for hosting both private and public events. These spaces are well-equipped to cater to various types of gatherings and meetings.

10. Is the museum accessible for visitors with disabilities?

Yes, the Borneo Cultures Museum is designed to be accessible to all visitors. Facilities and pathways are available to accommodate those with disabilities, and admission is free for registered persons with disabilities.

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