Galeria Sri Perdana is a museum that provides an insight to the day to day life of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his family during his tenure as the country’s fourth prime minister.
The building was the prime minister’s official residence from 1983 until he relocated to the more palatial Seri Perdana in Putrajaya in 1999.
The museum still maintains the feel of a private residence and many of the rooms have been left unchanged from Mahathir’s time, complete with 1980s-era furniture and decor.
The building is large and imposing but not particularly attractive, and by no means lavish for a prime minister. It gives the impression of a man who was more interested in his work than in his own personal comforts.
The gardens are sprawling and nicely tended and the residence’s position on a hilltop in Jalan Terengganu, Federal Hill, gives a fine view of the city.
A balcony on the upper floor is where the PM used to relax and watch the progress of Kuala Lumpur’s growth.
There is a powerful telescope on the balcony through which the “Father of Modernisation” could monitor the construction of his pet projects, such as the Petronas Twin Towers and KL Tower.
On entering the building though the main ground floor entrance is the reception room where visitors would be greeted.
Off to the side is a meeting room with some Lat cartoons that feature Mahathir during his time as PM on the walls.
There is a guest bedroom here too. Behind the main lounge is the ante-room leading into the banquet hall with a long U-shaped table set for dinner.
There are two kitchens, one is restaurant-sized with dumb-waiters to transport the food upstairs. The other kitchen is much smaller with a four-ring electric cooker that could be found in any ordinary home of the 1980s.
There is a laundry room and a barber shop with a proper barber’s chair and mirror so that the PM could remain well-groomed for his myriad public appearances.
More surprising, is a carpentry workshop where the PM liked to do woodworking as a hobby. The display mentions that his patience and attention to detail enabled him to become accomplished at this craft.
Upstairs, some of the rooms have been converted into exhibition spaces to display the gifts and mementos presented to him as part of his official duties. (There is a much bigger collection of such items at Galeria Perdana in Langkawi.)
The bedrooms of his daughters, Datin Paduka Marina and Maizura are well-preserved as is the family’s private dining room and galley kitchen.
The study/office of the PM and Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali maintain their original fittings and décor. There is a collection of the PM’s hats, canes and boots on display.
Back outside, there are a number of motor vehicles presented to the former PM by manufacturers and his official vehicle, a Proton with number plate PROTON 2020.
There are three official museums dedicated to Mahathir’s first 22 years as prime minister:
- His birthplace in Alor Setar containing personal belongings from his childhood, schooldays, medical career and his early years in politics
- Galeria Perdana in Langkawi is where the bulk of the gifts and souvenirs received in his official capacity are displayed
- Galeria Sri Perdana in Kuala Lumpur, which gives more of an idea of the man behind the job
Galeria Sri Perdana
59000 Kuala Lumpur
Tuesday to Thursday: 9am to 5pm
Friday: 9am to 12pm; 3pm to 5pm
Saturday and Sunday: 9am to 5pm
Closed on Mondays, except if it falls on a public holiday and during school holidays.
Admission is free
This article first appeared in Malaysia Traveller