If there was a city in the world that should stand out for its museums, it has got to be the city of Malacca in southwest Malaysia. The historic Malacca or Melaka is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for preserving important historical locations and relics. It plays an important role in the history of Malaysia. Today, there are several Malacca museums that have preserved interesting reminders of the city’s glory days
First of these notable museums is the Royal Malaysian Navy Museum, which opened for public viewing on October 28, 1995. It showcases rare medals of honor, naval weapons, old communication equipments, navigation tools, photographs of admirals, and so on. The navy museum was originally established in the city of Perak, but the Malaysian Government realized that this important museum deserves more audience, and therefore must be placed in a busy tourism city, such as Malacca. Tourism is alive in this city, whose top draws are Jonker Street, Chinatown, Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, Christ Church, old European architecture, interesting Baba Nyonya culture, duty-free shops and the superlatively friendly locals. Malacca is one of the most well-known cities in Malaysia, along with Kuala Lumpur and Penang.
Second is the Maritime Museum. Since Malacca is a port area, both the navy and maritime museums are important and relevant. Before Malaysia became an independent state in 1956, the port of Malacca was very important to the economy and international significance of Malaysia. The first Malay settlers and ensuing European colonizers sought its strategic location by the Malacca Strait.
The Maritime Museum is near the Melaka River. Its structure is a replica of the ancient Portuguese ship, “Flor De La Mar”, which sailed to Melaka centuries ago carrying priceless treasures. It sank on its way back to Portugal. The unique museum was first constructed in 1990 and completed in 1994. The museum was officially opened by former Prime Minister Mahathir in the same year. Inside the dimly lit museum are replicas showing how early Arabs, Indians and Chinese traded in Malacca, which was then referred to as the Venice of the East. They brought porcelain, textiles, spices and silk. The museum showcases old paintings and pictures of the Strait of Melaka.
Third is the Baba and Nyonka Peranakan Museum that exhibits cultural items from the Baba culture. The Baba Nyonya culture pertains to the Chinese-Malay population, and so the museum is specifically dedicated to Chinese traditions, treasures and artifacts. The heart of Chinese-Malay culture is Jonker Street in Chinatown.
Fourth is the Youth Museum/Melaka Art Gallery or Muzium Belia Malaysia. Situated at the former Post Office building, the Youth Museum features documents, information and paraphernalia on the different activities of various Malaysian youth locally and internationally. There are also youth-related photographs, trophies, awards, and other exhibits. It opened on April 15, 1992. The Melaka Art Gallery is found inside the Youth Museum.
These are just four interesting museums of the many in this historic city of Malacca. There are other museums along Bandar Kilir, which is considered the museum belt in Melaka. They are Melaka Umno Museum, Museum Budaya, Malay and Islamic World Museum, and Stamp Museum. The plan is to construct 21 Malacca museums in this area.