The Penang Tunnel Museum is an attraction of two parts, part history and part 3D mural art gallery.
Ground Floor: History
The museum used to be known as The History Museum and was designed as a “time tunnel”, taking visitors back through 400 years of Penang’s history.
The ground floor is still dedicated to Penang’s history and provides a reasonable overview starting in 1592 when a British naval captain called James Lancaster recorded the name Penang in his log at a time when the island was part of the Kedah Sultanate.
Display panels explain how, in 1786, Francis Light, representing the English East India Company, signed an agreement with the Sultan of Kedah to lease the island, thus starting the island’s growth as a major trading port.
Copies of old paintings, photos, dioramas and mannequins illustrate Penang’s development and changes through various phases of its history up until Independence.
The most interesting information was about the Eurasian community in Penang, and their role in the city’s history.
There is also a copy of Francis Light’s will, naming his common-law wife, Martina Rozells (herself a Eurasian) as his main beneficiary.
Upstairs: 3D Mural Art Gallery
Here you will find a 3D mural art gallery with fluorescent-effect paint under ultraviolet lights. Some of the murals are related to Penang’s history while others are off-piste with Batman, Darth Vader and so on.
With the advent of smartphones and selfies, these types of 3D or trick art galleries have sprung up all over Malaysia and no doubt this museum is trying to cash in on their popularity.
Younger visitors will probably find this section more appealing than the history portion downstairs.
You can find similar or better exhibits in many other museums around the country but the history section is informative, especially for first time visitors to Penang. Most visitors seem to like this place.
It was a bit expensive however, even after the discount. They have quite a few staff upstairs helping with the lighting and photos so it’s likely they need to charge enough to cover their salaries.
Opening hours and admission charges
- Monday-Friday from 9.15am to 7pm (last admission 6.15pm).
- Saturday/Sunday/Public Holidays from 9.15am to 7.30pm (last admission 6.45pm).
- Adults: RM29 for foreigners; RM16 MyKad
- Children (Ages 5-12) RM16 for foreigners, RM8 MyKad
- Students with student ID RM16 for foreigners, RM11 MyKad
“Snap and Show” Discount Vouchers are available on their official website, giving you a RM2 discount.
Penang Tunnel Museum
39, Jalan Green Hall, George Town
10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang
This article first appeared in malaysia-traveller.com