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How SO Museum is Preserving the Rich Cultural Heritage in Penang

Background on Penang and its Unesco World Heritage Site

  • Penang is an island on the northwest coast of Malaysia, known for its historical city, George Town.
  • George Town has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008 due to its unique fusion of Eastern and Western influences.
  • The heritage site is made up of six distinct areas, populated by a mix of Chinese, Malay, Indian, and European cultures.
  • The area is known for its street art, colonial architecture, and religious monuments, as well as its vibrant food and nightlife.
  • It is also home to several museums, galleries, and other attractions.

Overview of Straits & Oriental Museum

  • Summarize in bullet points: Overview of Straits & Oriental Museum.
  • Located in the heart of Gurney Paragon Mall, the Straits & Oriental Museum is a museum dedicated to the history, culture and diversity of the SEA region, particularly former Straits settlements.
  • The museum houses a collection of artefacts from Asia, including ceramics and artefacts.
  • The museum also offers educational programs and activities such as lectures, workshops, and art galleries.
  • The Straits & Oriental Museum is open to the public with admission fee of between RM15 to RM50.

History of the Straits & Oriental Museum

  • St Joseph’s Novitiate is a historic building located in Penang, bordered to the north by Gurney Drive and south by Kelawai Road.
  • It was originally built in 1916 as a novitiate for the Christian Brothers and a teachers’ training college.
  • A two-storey structure was added to the back of the chapel in 1925 and is inscribed with the Latin words: “ANNO SANCTO MCMXXV” (Holy Year 1925).
  • The building was later taken over by the International School of Penang (Uplands) in the 1980s and was restored and rebranded as St Jo’s in 2012.

Founding and Objective of the Museum

  • Founded at the iconic St. Jo’s building in Penang.
  • First museum to showcase ancient shipwrecked ceramics from Cathay.
  • Aims to celebrate history, food and good stories from the histories.

Collection Highlights at the Museum

  • Splendour of porcelain and its significance to the ancient world.
  • Authentic pieces recovered from maritime expeditions from well-known wrecks such as the Wanli, Turiang, Royal Nanhai, Nanyang, Xuande and Desaru.
  • Museum divided into three sections for further exploration.

Preservation Efforts by the Straits & Oriental Museum

  • Raising public awareness of Penang’s cultural heritage.
  • Displaying artefacts, documents and photographs related to Penang’s cultural heritage.
  • Offering educational programs about Penang’s cultural heritage.
  • Hosting cultural events and activities.
  • Creating and publishing educational materials about Penang’s cultural heritage.
  • Establishing partnerships and collaborations with other museums and heritage organizations.
  • Developing and maintaining a database of Penang’s cultural heritage.
  • Collecting, preserving and conserving artifacts related to Penang’s cultural heritage.