Penang State Museum and Art Gallery
Penang, Malaysia 10200
The Penang State Museum houses artefacts and cultural exhibits. The present building, which was formerly the Penang Free School, is actually half a building, the other half of the building having been destroyed by aerial bombing during World War II. A bronze cast of Captain Francis Light, used to stand outside the museum building. It has since returned to Fort Cornwallis where it was first unveiled by the colonial administration. A small museum, it has a fine collection of old photographs, maps and historical records charting the growth of Penang from the days of Francis Light.
The Penang State Art Gallery and the Pinang Gallery showcase the works of local artists. A newer gallery, the USM ABN-Amro Arts and Cultural Centre, located at Beach Street, was established in 2002 to promote art awareness among Penang citizens. Sadly the USM ABN-Amro Arts and Cultural Centre closed down in early December 2006 due to lack of patronage. The Universiti Sains Malaysia Museum and Gallery possesses a large ethnographic and performing arts section with a special exhibition on wayang kulit. The art gallery features works by Malaysian artists. Other establishments promoting art awareness include the Alliance française de Penang and Hotel Bellevue.
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Art that astounds
The Penang State Museum and Art Gallery has the largest amount of artifacts and paintings as an organization in Penang,
Right from the entrance as you pay the entrance fee, you will see 2 separate signs. One takes you to the art gallery and the other takes you to the museum. I opted for the art gallery tour first because I simply love paintings that are both expressive and abstract. The gallery features some of the best local artists with a few works done by foreigners but all of them certainly describes Penang in one way or the other. There are modern depictions of a girl sitting near a busy street near Komtar all the way to renditions of the old times of Penang. Young or old, you will not be disappointed.
The state museum was taken last and I found more than one reason to be amazed at the plentiful collections of artifacts they had on display. There were wooden chairs on display that were created by the Babas and Nyonyas a decade ago and there were even sets of old cups and plates which had elaborate designs on them. It is to my understanding that nobody in the world manufactures the products displayed in the museum anymore and that added a surreal sense of belonging. I find myself wishing I was living in the old times of Penang rather than the new. This has been a valuable experience for me.