Penang Museum to feature Louvre-inspired art house by 2020

Penang State Museum director Haryany Mohamad (left) and museum board member and architect Tan Bee Eu showing an artist’s impression of the proposed modernist building which will come up next to the museum building.

GEORGE TOWN: The state government plans to erect a building inspired by the Louvre pyramid’s metal and poles by 2020.

It will be on an empty portion of land within the Penang State Museum compound.

It will be part of a RM20 million upgrade to restore and renovate the museum.

The empty area on the western side of the museum compound was bombed by the Allied Forces during the Japanese occupation in World War 2.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the proposed two-storey building would have mechanical louvres and will be made of metal, glass and poles to give it a see-through effect as part of a modernist design concept.

He said the initial plan was to rebuild the bombed portion but a consensus was reached with those involved that a mix of old and new would be the best.

“We thought we should not be talking about restoring the old building, but rather peer into the future with a new one, one that is relevant to the local population.

“At the Louvre Palace in France, there is a glass pyramid built in the centre.

“We’ll take this same spirit of old and new. We’ll restore the existing building by complementing it with a modern mix,” Lim said at the museum grounds today.

The new building is expected to house art collections. At night, the exterior of the building will play a “slideshow” of art pieces, through state-of-the-art projection on the mechanical louvres.

The state museum, on Farquhar Street here, occupies the original Penang Free School building.

It has been in existence since 1817 and was converted to a museum in 1965 by the late prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman.

It has been closed since April 15 last year. The museum was temporarily moved to the Penang Art Gallery on Macalister Road last July.

The existing building’s interior will be renovated and modernised, but its unique structure, which dates back to the British era, will be maintained.

The tripartite George Town Conservation and Development Corporation (GTCDC) will play an advisory role in the overall restoration and conservation project.

The partners in GTCDC are Penang Chief Minister Incorporated (CMI), Think City Sdn Bhd and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.

GTCDC is a special purpose vehicle to improve public infrastructure as per the George Town Special Area Plan.

It is currently involved in the improvement, regeneration, activation and upgrading of the Waterfront Precinct, the Clan Jetties, the Street of Harmony at Pitt Street, Fort Cornwallis and Syed Al-Attas Mansion.

The RM20 million cost will be borne by the state government, Lim said.