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2.2.4

PENANG MUSEUM & ART GALLERY

  • 2.2.4.1 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The Penang Museum building was constructed for the Penang Free School. The school was founded on 21 st October, 1816 marking the 30 th anniversary of Light’s death. It was proposed and tirelessly promoted by Rev Hutchings on the same site, which is the present building was constructed between 1896 is the half near to George’s Church and the other half in 1906. The schoolhouse was designed as a symmetrical building and erected in two stages. The Penang Free School moved out to Green Lane in 1927 after which the Hutchings School moved into the premises. The eastern half of the building was bombed during World War II and the Museum, occupies the remaining half.

Penang museum & art gallery officially opened to public on 14 April 1965 after undergone several renovation which includes re – paintings and re – arrangement of the museum historical collection. In the same year, the art gallery was added to the Museum. Penang State Museum located at Farquhar Street (Lebuh Farquhar). The museum displays the social history of Penang’s communities, including their traditional trades, dress and customs. It also features historic events such as Penang Riots of 1867 and the Japanese Occupation.

The Penang Museum boasts many historical artefacts that are state treasures give much insight into the lives of the multi ethnic community in Penang. Amongst these are eight of the ten original oil paintings executed by Captain Robert Smith (the remaining two being in a private collection). Other artifacts of note include extensive collections of Baba Nyonya porcelain, Chinese furnishings, jewellery and costumes, hand – written Al – Quran, old Malay weapons that are unsurpassed in their artistic beauty and historical value. From far, with the museum painted "all white", one might just mistaken the museum for high courts or any government building.

The Penang State Government proposed setting up a state museum in 1962 which was well accepted by the then prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman. He mooted the idea of using the Hutching School building, as it is now occupying the original Penang Free School, where Tunku had been a pupil. Some of the museum collections feature Penang historical evolutions

since its founding by the British in 1786 until the early 20th century. This includes old paintings, art gallery, old photograph, maps, charts, old documents, embroidery, Malay wedding costumes and priceless historical relics. At the museum courtyard you will be able to see the original Penang Hills funicular railway carriage, anchor from the French destroyer "Mosquet", cannon and the billboard of Penang founder; Captain Francis Light.

The fully air – conditioned museum (a nice escape for the hot and humid weather) is separated into 2 levels. The ground floor offers historical insight of the lives of the three major communities which is Malay, Chinese and the Indians. As one of the first city that started from sea trade, Penang has brought myriads of multi – racial communities coexisting side by side – A distinctly different culture yet uniquely Malaysian. Over the years, these races came to dominate Penang colourful and multi – ethnic society. It provides spectacular milestones that mark significance in the lives of Penang sites of year to year.

The museum first

floor provides visitor with the history of Penang

starting from its

founding as a British settlement in 1786 by Captain Francis Light until the early 20th century.

The colourful history of Penang is unveiled through series of photographic panels, some exhibition site, audio-video presentation as well as numerous paintings by two English artists; William Daniels and Captain Robert Smith. Refer to the floor map below for more info.

since its founding by the British in 1786 until the early 20th century. This includes old

Figure 2.31 : Floor plan (GF) inside the Penang Museum

Source : www.penang – vacations.com (2008)

Figure 2.31 : Floor plan (GF) inside the Penang Museum Source : www.penang – vacations.com (2008)

Figure 2.32 : Floor plan (1 st floor) inside the Penang Museum

Source : www.penang – vacations.com (2008)

It is without doubt that the historical society in Penang has put together a marvellous collection of ethnological and historical findings from Penang, tracing the port history and diverse cultures through time. This important finding was presented to the visitor in this museum with fascinating facts and trivia. For most time might one day wash away

our memories of the past, but with Penang museum & art gallery standing tall in the heart of Georgetown, the historical facts of Penang will be forever remembered and preserve by many generation to come.

our memories of the past, but with Penang museum & art gallery standing tall in the
our memories of the past, but with Penang museum & art gallery standing tall in the

Figure 2.33: The overall view of Penang Museum and art gallery

Source: Field study (2008)

  • 2.2.4.2 Architectural styles and concepts

The Penang Museum is housed in a colonial – era building built in two phases, phase one in 1896, and when funds were adequate, phase two in 1906. The Palladian architecture was strongly emphasis on the symmetry, perspectives and value of the formal classical temple architecture of the Ancient Greeks and Roman. The architecture styles of this building is the classical British Palladian style with a small dome, arches magnificent Corinthian column, and plenty of typical tall windows. The other important element is the window at this building. All the windows was tinted because of this area was hot and consist of central light with a semicircular arch above the window which carried the impost of entablature of two pilasters on left and right side of the window. This constituted an impressive architecture and an outstanding value to the building. The building was one colonial building in Penang. The styles are really creative with a unique decoration on the wall and column. The entire column is built in big size and above it

have a stucco in flower design. It also give some memories of Penang Free School when have a rounded stucco with craving of ‘PFC’. It shows that this building was occupied and became as a school.

have a stucco in flower design. It also give some memories of Penang Free School when

Figure 2.34: Type of window at Penang State Museum

Source: Field study (2008)

have a stucco in flower design. It also give some memories of Penang Free School when
have a stucco in flower design. It also give some memories of Penang Free School when

Figure 2.35: Memories of Penang Free School when have rounded stucco with craving of ‘PFC’.

Source: Field study (2008)

2.2.4.3 BUILDING SIGNIFICANT AND ELEMENT OF IMPORTANT

The Penang Museum is painted in white with two storey height and has a significant historical values, architectural values, social cultural and political values.

  • a) Significant Historical Values

Penang Free School is the first English school in Malaysia. The school established since 1816 in George Town, Penang. It was one of the most outstanding colonial buildings and still can be seen today which present the colonial history although just have one building because another building was bomb on the world war II. In this Free school also have a few of Alma Mater of many established, well known and successful Malaysians. An individual pursuing his secondary education in the Free School is commonly known as a Free, once the individual leaves the Free School, he is automatically an Old Free. For example the alumni is:

Tunku Abdul Rahman - First Prime Minister and founding father of Malaysia.

Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin - the Raja of Perlis and the 12th Yang Di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia.

Tan Sri P.Ramlee - Malay actor, director, songwriter and musician.

Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu - second Chief Minister of Penang.

Tan Sri G. Rama Iyer- former Secretary-General of the Primary Industries Ministry

  • b) Significant Architectural Values

It was a fine example of venerable British colonial architecture. It was constructed with typical British Palladian architectural style featuring with magnificent Corinthian column, plenty of typical tall windows, a small dome and arches. The concept of design for Penang Museum is similarity with other building in George Town such as Penang City Hall.

Figure 2.36: Similarity design both Penang Museum and Penang City Hall Source: Field study (2008)
Figure 2.36: Similarity design both Penang Museum and Penang City Hall Source: Field study (2008)

Figure 2.36: Similarity design both Penang Museum and Penang City Hall

Source: Field study (2008)