Sarawak Museum

Sarawak is renowned for the richness of its natural, cultural and historical heritage. The Sarawak Museum has long been touted as one of the best in this part of the world, with its old wing dating back to 1891.

To enhance the museum’s standing as a global world-class institution, the state government, through the Department of Museum and the Public Works Department, is working on a new Sarawak Museum Campus.

Due for completion in 2020, the project comprises the design, construction and fitting out of an exhibitory for a new museum and an adjoining annexe building, with a combined total floor space of approximately 31,000 square metres.

Sitting atop a hill overlooking Padang Merdeka, The new Sarawak Museum will sit on the site of the former Dewan Tun Abdul Razak, overlooking Padang Merdeka the new Sarawak Museum is conceptualised as an iconic building, boasting not only a strong visual and aesthetic expression but also responding to its functional need as a practical and welcoming public place for all.

The design brief dictates that the new museum has to complement the existing Sarawak State Legislative Assembly (DUN) building, which is located in the same axial line across the Sarawak River. Hence, the external façade is consciously designed for architectural dialogue, resulting in the perimeter arches crowning the colonnades on the museum’s exterior, which resonate with the arch-ornamented DUN building. The distinctive gold colour of the museum’s roof and façade cladding is also chosen to match the DUN’s colour scheme.

The solid part of the façade is designed with composite panel wall claddings with an abstract reinterpretation of weavings in Sarawak, in reference to the museum’s role as the keeper and presenter of the state’s cultural heritage.

Glass panels will form the façade in the centre of the elevation, where natural daylight will brighten up the public circulation areas, while the surrounding colonnades have limited openings to restrict light penetration into the gallery spaces.

The new five-storey Sarawak Museum building consists of exhibition gallery spaces on Levels 2 to 5, flanking a central atrium on both wings. Level 1 houses commercial lots, a café, function rooms and auditorium spaces, which support and complement the temporary exhibition gallery.

It will be connected at the first and basement levels to a three-storey annexe building, which houses the museum’s conservation and research spaces, library and archives, as well as offices. The entire basement level is a dedicated storage area, carefully designed with climate control for the preservation of artefacts.

The new facilities will ensure that the Sarawak heritage, in the form of a wide array of collections, is safely and securely stored, preserved, documented, researched and well exhibited, according to the latest standards by the International Council of Museums.

The new museum and annexe forms part of the Sarawak Museum campus, which also comprises the old Sarawak Museum, Natural History Museum, and Art Museum. However, there is little physical connectivity between these fragmented building sites within the campus.

Under the campus master plan, a green connector will be introduced to create a safe and convenient link between the museums, as well as to reconnect them to the existing urban fabric. The new Sarawak Museum will have a pedestrian link bridge for a seamless transition to the grounds of the old Sarawak Museum, complete with disabled-friendly ramps and shaded walkways. Improved pedestrian circulation in the vicinity is aimed at revitalising the city and encouraging both residents and tourists to indulge in Sarawak’s rich culture and heritage experience.

The new Sarawak Museum is also designed with disabled-friendly architecture. Apart from the essentials, such as ramps and toilets for the disabled, the museum has put strong emphasis on way finding for visually impaired visitors, with the incorporation of tactile ground paving, tactile maps and interactive exhibits.

The new Sarawak Museum and annexe building aim to achieve a Green Building Index-certified rating. Green building materials include wood products certified by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) for the floor and interior wall panels, to promote sustainable forest harvesting and management in the region.

Following the demolition of the existing Dewan Tun Abdul Razak to make way for the new museum, conscious effort was made to retain the large trees on site and to preserve the surrounding context as much as possible.

Project Name: New Sarawak Museum and annexe building
Location: Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg, Kuching, Sarawak
Expected Completion: January 2020
Site Area: Approximately 39,500 square metres
Gross Floor Area: Approximately 31,000 square metres
Building Height
Main: 5 storeys; 42.9 metres
Annexe: 3 storeys; 19.7 metres
Client/Owner: Jabatan Muzium Sarawak
Architecture Firm: Arkitek KDI Sdn Bhd
Principal Architects: Dato’ Sri Ar John Lau Kah Sieng; Ar Voon Choon Hin; Florence Yeo Yinling; Lily Lau
Interior Design Firm: Arkitek KDI Sdn Bhd
Principal Designer: Sharon Ngimat
Civil & Structural Engineer: EDS Konsultant Sdn Bhd
Mechanical & Electrical Engineers: PRIMETECH Engineers Sdn Bhd; Perunding UZL Sdn Bhd
Quantity Surveyors: JUBSAR Sdn Bhd; PUBM Quantity Surveyors Sdn Bhd
Green Building Consultant: Exergy Malaysia Sdn Bhd
Exhibitory Design: gsmprjct Creation Pte Ltd
Main Contractor (turnkey): PPES Works (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd