One of the most important attractions and national structures in Bandar Seri Begawan is the Brunei Museum. The capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan is home to a number of historic and religious structures that represent the uniqueness of this city and the entire country. The sultanate of Brunei Darussalam is unique in many ways. It is one of the tiniest countries in the world yet its people are among the wealthiest.
This often unnoticed country in Southeast Asia has a stable economy thanks to the abundant supply of natural oil and petroleum. It is also a stern follower of Islam and it shows in its laws, national priorities and its people’s way of life. The sale and drinking of alcohol is prohibited; any citizen caught drinking or foreigners drinking in public or over the allowable number of consumption will be subject to painful caning.
The capital city is teeming with a number of lavish religious structures and intricately designed landmarks. First-time visitors will no doubt be in awe upon seeing the sultan’s palace and the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque. There are also a number of historic sites and important museums, the most significant of which is Brunei Museum.
Known to some locals as Muzium Brunei, Brunei Museum is the leading and largest museum in the country. It was established in 1965 before the country even gained independence and before the capital city was named. The area was then known simply as Bandar Brunei. (“Bandar” is Malay for “town”.) The museum building was completed in 1970 on a hilltop and with a magnificent view of Brunei River. The building has ornate patterns and engraving that represent traditional Malay designs. The museum’s official address today is Brunei Museums Department, Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, Jalan Menteri Besar, Brunei Darussalam.
The national museum is proud of its displays, which include artifacts and specimens that represent the country’s history, natural history, archeology and ethnography. The museum effortlessly attracts local and international visitors, which include students, professors, scientists and the plain curious. They come for the cultural and education pieces that talk much about the history of the country.
There are other museums in the capital city that supplement what people can see inside the Brunei Museum. Three other important repositories of national treasures are the Royal Regalia Building, Brunei History Center and the Arts and Handicrafts Center.
The Royal Regalia Building displays artifacts, documents and art pieces that point to sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. The people love their rulers. Some of the main displays include the sultan’s Silver Jubilee chariots, royal armors, traditional crown jewels, and so on. The main gallery exhibits artifacts that were used during the sultan’s coronation, as well as documents that talk about the sultan’s life and rise to the throne.
Finally, the Brunei History Center focuses on the history and genealogy of the sultans and their families, while the Arts and Handicrafts Center is all about traditional fine arts, brassware, silverware, woven products, woodcarving, and basketry. There are two other museums that focus on special interests, namely the Brunei Stamp Gallery and Bubungan Dua Belas, which is the oldest surviving building in Bandar Seri Begawan. These all point to the uniqueness of the Bruneian history, culture and people, as does the Brunei Museum.