Museums reopen doors to visitors

Lyna Mohamad

The Museums Department reopened its museums and galleries yesterday, following the recent announcement of the second phase of the de-escalation plan by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar and Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin.

At the Malay Technology and Maritime (MTM) museum, the staff were ready to greet visitors with standard procedures such as the scanning of the BruHealth QR code, temperature checks and hand sanitising before entering. Curator of Ethnography/Manager of MTM Muhd Khairun Hazim bin Haji Mat Sani said that every building being administered by the Museums Department is undergoing the first phase of the de-escalation plan.

“During this phase, the museum will be allowing only 30 visitors to enter the premises for each visit,” he said. “Visitors who come in a group will be divided into two or three groups of eight to 10 people. Every visitor is encouraged to wear a mask. If they don’t have one, they can get on at the Senior Citizen Activity Centre stall located in the lobby.

“Visitors are also encouraged to practise social distancing through means of labels and posters on the walls, chairs, exhibition panels on the museum galleries. They are not allowed to touch exhibition panels and artefacts, and only a time frame of 30 minutes per visitor is allowed.

“We don’t have lockers available but we provide a container for the visitors to use. A tour guide or one of the visitors should look after the group’s belongings at the lobby.”

ABOVE & BELOW: Research Officer Haji Bahrin bin Haji Bolhassan; and exhibits at the museum. PHOTOS: BAHYIAH BAKIR

Research Officer Haji Bahrin bin Haji Bolhassan said the MTM is only open to visitors for five hours from 9am to 2pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. “At present, there are no tourists coming into the country, but I hope that local visitors will make time to visit the museum, especially schoolchildren who can come in small groups as their educational field trip activity.

“There are three exhibition halls at the building, so those coming in a group can be divided into smaller groups of five as this is the limit for entry to each of the halls in accordance with the requirements by the Ministry of Health (MoH).

“Students and lecturers from higher learning institutions are also welcome to visit the museums for research or studies, as references for their assignments or projects.”

Haji Bahrin added that the MTM halls underwent restructuring work during the closure, with its staff carrying out maintenance and cleaning work, along with the affixing of captions to provide visitors with a better understanding of the exhibits, particularly in the hall displaying traditional houses. “Prior to the reopening announcement, officers and staff were briefed on aspects of health and safety which emphasised on the use of hand sanitisers and face masks for staff and visitors alike,” he said.

Museums, exhibition galleries, libraries and senior citizen activity centres were closed on March 16, following reports of the first COVID-19 case in the Sultanate.

A 30 per cent capacity rule applies to the reopening of all museums, exhibition galleries and libraries, in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) and on the advice of the MoH.