My little boy, my better half and I spent our public holiday yesterday visiting some of our more touristy places. It was partly for fun as it has been ages since we last went there; partly for my 7 year old, a new interest in museums after watching ‘A Night at the Museum’ and partly for me, it was duty as these areas fall under my purview for funding and with the upcoming VBY2008, I have to be prepared. Our itinerary was - early morning, Damuan Park; morning, Museum at Kota Batu and the nearby Malay Technology Museum; noon, SOAS Mosque and later afternoon, Makam Di Luba; and a short stop to see the BSB 100 years’ exhibition.
Damuan Park has managed to maintain very much all the improvements made over the last couple of years, though a couple of the ASEAN Sculptures looked a little bit jaded. The metal sculptures look alright but the ones made out of stone/concrete looked somewhat broken and needs repairing. It was the Singapore's structure, the staight column one, if I am not mistaken.
The ASEAN Sculptures are probably one of the more unusual displays in Brunei as we don't seemed to have a culture of maintaining sculptures in Brunei. If you have been traveling around Brunei, the major sculpture in Brunei is in KB - that huge kettle. So the ASEAN Sculptures at Damuan are unique. Damuan Park is still a great place for tourists to take photographs of Istana Nurul Iman.
The Malay Technology Museum has not changed much since 16 years ago when I first went as a newly married with my better half. I didn't appreciate the cutch processing machines display at the museum's car park before. But having realised since then that cutch was one of Brunei's main exports prior to oil and gas, those displays take a more important look. Perhaps more explanation can be given other than a curt display board. The museum was a little bit flooded when we came in, the stairs were wet as there was a leak which looked as if it was a design flaw - too many windows and not enough roof cover - not so good in our torrential rain weather. I can't say much about the displays - they have not changed at all - they were still informative but perhaps some improvements could be made.
Our main museum is in need of a major overhaul. The Islamic Gallery is fine and the 'new' sunken treasures Gallery are both okay being relatively new. The Oil and Gas Gallery can really be much much better than this. If you have been to the Petronas Gallery at KLCC where you can spend a whole day and still feel as if you have not seen all the exhibits and then come and see the gallery oil and gas gallery at the Brunei Museum, even my seven year old can see the difference. The Brunei History Gallery is still as fascinating but definitely the exhibition is also history. It looked as if it has not changed since the museum was officially opened in the 1970s! This one really need a huge makeover as many other findings have been made, KBII and Limau Manis are just two of them. Even the temporary BSB 100 years’ exhibition looks much more interesting than the Brunei History Gallery. The Brunei Culture gallery too suffers from the same tiredness. I know the department can do better as the fantastic exhibits at the Royal Regalia are looked after by the department as well. I missed the natural history exhibits and I do hope that one will make a reappearance one of these days.
I will continue with the second part in another posting.