The Penang State Museum is the leading official museum for Penang and is operated by the Penang State Museum Board which also operates the Penang State Art Gallery.
Since 1964 the museum has been housed in a heritage building on Farquhar Street opposite the Courts complex. The building dates back to 1816 and was originally used by the Penang Free School.
In December 2018 the museum was closed for some time due to restoration and upgrading works. There is no indication on when it will reopen.
There are some bushes growing on the roof which will cause further damage to the fabric of this fine old building unless they are not promptly removed.
A plaque outside records the list of contributions to the memorial fund which presumably helped pay for its construction. The list reads like a Who’s Who of the most important companies and individuals in Penang at that time.
Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation, gave US$500 which was rather miserly compared to the generosity of the German Huttenbach brothers (US$5,000 each).
The Macalister premises has been leased by the museum since 2010 and below are a few of the exhibits which you can find here:
Separate rooms display furniture, clothing, photos and other artefacts pertaining to the main ethnic communities making up Penang’s unique culture, namely Malay, Chinese, Indian and Peranakan.
The history of Penang is well covered and the importance of the spice trade is explained. Visitors can sniff samples of 15 different types of spice grown or traded in Penang.
A collection of oil paintings by Captain Robert Smith in the year 1818 show the spice plantations at Glugor, the view from the convalescent bungalow on Penang Hill and the stately mansion Suffolk House.
This article first appeared in malaysia-traveller.com