I am writing an article for a travel magazine and one of the photographs I needed was that of the Churchill Museum. You remember? The famous Churchill Museum with the statute of Sir Winston Churchill and his famous two finger V shaped signature? (V actually stands for Victory but in the 1960s that two finger V shaped sign became a symbol for Peace.)
And guess what? I could not find a single photograph of that museum. I have been scouring through all the coffee table books, the annual reports, the commemorative books and whatever else that the government has published over the last 50 years in my collection and zilch, nien, nyet, nada.. Other than Churchill first day covers (and Lat's cartoon), not a single blooming photograph anywhere. It was still standing until 1991. I can't believe it.
The closest I could get was this aerial photograph of Bandar Seri Begawan in the evening celebrating either National Day or Birthday sometimes in the late 1980s. The museum was part of it and that's the closest I got for the last two weeks. You can barely make out Sir Winston Churchill standing in the middle of the courtyard of the museum.
The correct name for the building was The Churchill Memorial Exhibition Building but we tend to call it the Churchill Museum. It not only housed the Churchill exhibits but also Brunei's Aquarium and also a smaller exhibiton of Brunei's old dcouments. The statute of Sir winston Churchill was outside. When I was much younger I remembered Sir winston Churchill towering above me whenever we visited the Museum. He looked so big.
Anyway, I asked around. I also trawled the internet for the last two weeks. All I found usually was my own posting on the Churchill stamps and First Day Covers (after today, this posting will appear if you search for Churchill Museum). Nobody seemed to have any photographs of the museum. People remember having it and taking photographs in front of it but still not a single one came my away. I was finally given one yesterday and I was really looking forward to it but it turned out this one even though was slightly better and clearer than that aerial photograph but the statute was still too tiny. So I give up. I am half beginning to think there is a conspiracy to hide any memory of it.
It seemed that we don't really take photographs of our own attractions. The Churchill Museum might not be a good example of the Brunei's attractions as compared to the Royal Regalia Building. But you would be surprised that this is the kind of thing that attracts people to come. The odd thing. I remembered in 2005 when I was in Jeju - a Korean island made famous by a Korean drama which I have forgotten - it had one interesting museum - a Teddy Bear Museum, and not just any Teddy Bear Museum - it's the world’s largest museum that is wholly dedicated to teddy bears. What has Teddy Bears and Jeju got in common? Nothing. It is still an attraction. When I was studying in the States, the town I was living in was famous not just for its university. It has the world's largest Swatch Museum! Connection? Again, none. But people come. So I guess, building something for the fun of it sometimes work.
Photo credit and copyright: Lat's Cartoon from 'Lat and his Lot again' Berita Publishing 1983; first photograph - 'Brunei Berdaulat' Brunei Government; and second photograph - Information Department.