I had little sleep in transit from Kuala Lumpur to Penang. While waiting for my check-in time at my hotel, it was a good decision to go out for a cursory heritage tour of Penang with KKDay. It’s a good way to orient myself with the city of Goerge town being a first timer here. One of our early stops was the Colonial Penang Museum. It wasn’t listed on the itinerary so I wasn’t expecting much. But lo, my eyes were kept peeled from fascination with over a thousand pieces of items painting a rich history of Penang’s British colonial era. An ideal starting point that gives insight on Penang heritage.
Colonial Penang Museum
Found in the high-end neighborhood of Pulau Tikas, the Colonial Penang Museum is a private museum housed in a British-style heritage home. The museum founder, Jasmine Tan, amassed this vast collection for over half a century. The museum pieces ranging from 18th-20th century British Colonial era were obtained from mansions of wealthy Penang merchants from Georgetown.
It was a lovely 2-story house with a large garden where 22 original Roman pillars stand. The entrance is MYR 30. Since it was already included in my tour fee, I didn’t have to pay.
Colonial Penang Museum provides guided tours to visitors. I joined a couple from Singapore with Alvin as our guide. This was great as I appreciate guided tours more on places like museums or exhibits. It gives more essence to the items I’m looking at. Extra trivia not written on the display info. They have English and Malay speaking guides. Alvin was such an entertaining yet informative guide. I could see he has been doing this for years already.
When a larger group came in, he was requested to accompany them instead but had the pleasure to be guided by the founder herself, Madame Jasmine. She isn’t as affluent as Alvin but provides bits and pieces of info on the items. Then there’s Nicole who took over until the end of the tour. They were all accommodating and articulate. They even allowed me to go around at my own pace to take pictures after the tour.
The British colonial era is a fascinating period. Penang was a rich cosmopolitan port where visitors from all over the world comes. The British would often show-off their riches, but not to be outdone, Penang Merchants who also didn’t hesitate to display their lavishness. From commissioned stained glass windows to meticulously carved furnitures and displays. It was a time when mass manufacturing wasn’t a thing yet so furniture pieces were intricately handcrafted like a piece of art.
There were so many interesting item to highlight here. From the vibrant and methodically made stained glass and reverse paintings. Fastidiously done captain’s desk and French desks. Handwritten documents and rare furnishings made from quality wood.
It took me more than an hour to satisfactorily leave the museum. I was eyeing the details of some of the items that took my interest. It definitely kept me awake as it was a worthwhile visit.
Colonial Penang Museum
No 7 Jalan D.D. Ramanathan (Scott Road)
Pulau Tikus, 10350 Penang, Malaysia
Business Hours: 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM daily
Entrance Fee: MYR 30 (adult) / MYR 15 (Ages 5-12yo)
email: [email protected]
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.