The Museums Department
On May 18 every year, the world, including Brunei, celebrates the International Museums Day. Themed “Museums for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion”, the aim of the event is to bring awareness to the importance of the institution in promoting solidarity, peace within the community and appreciation towards differences in our lives.
Over the past years, the Museums Department has collaborated with a number of agencies through initiatives in a bid to safeguard the cultural heritage of the Sultanate.
Such efforts have borne fruit.
Between 2015 and March 2020, some 1,225,888 people visited the museums where both well-preserved artefacts and non-materials are displayed in accordance with the world standards.
Here are the museums and sections that operate under the Museums Department:
Royal Regalia Museum
The Royal Regalia Museum was officially opened on September 30, 1992. The building design incorporates the vision and philosophy of the nation under the Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB), and in it, a display of regalia and insignia of the Brunei royalty.
The museum has four galleries that showcase momentous occasions of the monarchy: The Royal Regalia, the Royal Exhibition, the Silver Jubilee and the Golden Jubilees.
In addition, lining the pathways of the museum is a collection of pesambah – souvenirs or gifts from world leaders and dignitaries to His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.
National Archives of Brunei Darussalam
Established in 1977, the National Archives of Brunei Darussalam has been responsible for the enactment of the Brunei National Archives Act 1975 (revised in 1983), Chapter 116 of the laws of Brunei.
The agency is the national resource and research centre where records of historical and national importance are identified and preserved for the future generations, and among them are public records, agreements, manuscripts and photographs as well as cartographic materials such as maps and plans, audio-visual items and newspapers.
Tasek Merimbun Heritage Park
The Tasek Merimbun Heritage Park, known as the ASEAN Heritage Park of Brunei Darussalam, is located in Tutong District.
Managed by the Natural History Section of the Museums Department, the objective is to conduct periodical research and build a comprehensive collection of fauna and flora found in the country.
The park also plays an important role in educating the public on the importance of nature through various initiatives, such as taxidermy demonstrations and curating exhibitions.
Today, the park has amassed over 50,000 specimens, comprising mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, insects, plants, crustaceans, shells, mushrooms, eggs and nests.
Malay Technology Museum
The Malay Technology Museum opened on February 29, 1988 to exhibit traditional technologies utilised by the indigenous people of the Sultanate, such as traditional handicrafts of those from Kampong Ayer and other ethnic groups on land.
The museum has been managed by the Ethnography Section of the Museums Department since 1978 and is responsible for research into the cultural heritage of Brunei peoples.
Brunei Darussalam Maritime Museum
The Brunei Darussalam Maritime Museum was launched on March 23, 2015 and is managed by the Archaeology Section of the Museums Department. It has a distinctive design that resembles a bow – the front of a ship – to demonstrate the Sultanate’s role as the centre of flourishing trade in ancient times.
Representing the historical repository of maritime, which includes artefacts and artisan items from multiple eras, the museum serves as a platform on which to reminisce and educate the people on the involvement of their ancestors in maritime activities.
Belait District Museum
The museum was built in 1938 on a six-acre plot of land, which was initially earmarked for the Assistant British Resident. Later, it turned into the residence of the Belait District Officer until 1990.
The building is a blend of Malay and colonial architecture, which was previously used as a banquet hall for His Majesty’s visit to the district during Sultan’s birthday celebrations.
Managed by the Administration, Media and Foreign Affairs Section of the Museums Department, the museum houses four permanent galleries: Natural Heritage, Cultural Heritage, History of the Administration and Development of the Belait District, and History of Oil and Gas.
Brunei Darussalam Sports Gallery
The Brunei Darussalam Sports Gallery is located at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas. Opened in 2014, the gallery showcases the sports development in the Sultanate as well as celebrated sports figures who have competed on the world stage.
Managed by the Acquisition Section of the Museums Department, the gallery is tasked to manage countless artefacts of the Museums Department.
The Art Gallery is located at Dermaga Diraja in the capital and is housed in a building initially reserved for the customs in the 1950s.The gallery is used to hold art exhibitions as well as display artwork and crafts collected by the Museums Department from members of the public. The gallery also regularly plays host to the annual Regatta Exhibition.
Managed by the Exhibition Section of the Museums Department, the gallery is aimed at showcasing the talents of local artists as well as the artistic scene in the country.
Kota Batu Archaeological Site
Believed to be the ancient capital of Brunei, between the 14th and 17th Centuries, Kota Batu is deemed an important archaeological hotspot, where among the notable finds include the Sultan Sharif Ali Tomb (1425-1432 AD), the Sultan Bolkiah Tomb (1485-1524 AD), Kota Batu I Complex (KB I), Kota Batu II (KB II), Causeway (KBIII) and Terindak Island.
The archaeological site, established in 1983, is currently managed by the Conservation and Restoration Section of the Museums Department, which has been further sub-divided into five units: the Scientific Laboratory, Paper Conservation Laboratory, Binding Unit, Organic Laboratory, and Inorganic Laboratory.
These units work in concert to protect, preserve and conserve the cultural materials of the Museums Department.
Brunei Museums Department Library
The Brunei Museums Department Library was first established in 1965 at the Community Hall in Brunei Town. Known then as Brunei Museum Library, it was moved to the Brunei Museum in Kota Batu in 1971, and finally its more permanent home at the National Archives Building in Jalan Dewan Majlis in 1998.
With over 200,000 references in its collection, the library caters not only to patrons of the Museums Department but also serves local and foreign researchers.
Education and Publishing Section of the Museums Department
The section is divided into two units: Education Services, and Publishing and Marketing.
The Education Services Unit is tasked to provide educational services, such as briefings and workshops, to schools, the private sector as well as the public at large. Meanwhile, the Publishing and Marketing Unit is responsible for the publication of resource materials for the Museums Department.