Art critic Jerry Saltz once said, “Don’t go to a museum with a destination. Museums are wormholes to other worlds. They are ecstasy machines.”
This is so true, especially if you are visiting Sabah Museum for the first time where each of the gallery inside the building will transport you to a different world.
Established in 1965, the museum was first housed at Gaya Street in Kota Kinabalu. It moved to its current location in 1984 at Bukit Istana Lama.
The main building of
Sabah museum is designed after traditional Rungus Longhouse.
As you walk inside the museum, there is a huge 20m long whale skeleton to welcome you. There are galleries of ethnography, natural history, ceramics, history and archaeology.
Every gallery has so many things to see and learn about
Sabah, from its rich culture to its abundant biodiversity.
There is a small section dedicating to ‘Budaya Mengayau’ or headhunting, which explains this old tradition of Sabah’s indigenous people.
For example, did you know that when headhunters came back from a raid, they were not allowed to bring the heads into the village?
So what did they do with the heads? For Kadazandusun of Tambunan and Tamparuli, they hung the head on a tree or bamboo and called it
In other communities, the heads were kept in a temporary hut called
After several days or weeks, a Bobolian or Bobohizan (high priestess) would performed a ritual, after which the heads would be allowed to be brought into the village.
If history and ethnology are you preference, you could find yourself reading through each panel for hours.
Open daily from 9am to 5pm, the museum charges RM2 for Malaysians and RM15 for non-Malaysian.
Photography is allowed (no flash) for visitors to capture their experience.
Here are photos taken by KajoMag at Sabah Museum for visitors to learn more about the Land Below the Wind:
The traditional attire of a Lundayeh woman. This mannequin is wearing a white blouse and a black skirt, with alet birar (beaded headgear) and beret benging (beaded belt).
A Bajau rider and his decorated horse.
A winnowing mill used to separate rice from the chaff.
Bakul sabat was traditionally used to carry bridal gifts in the Kadazandusun community at Tambunan district.
Sabah Museum has a collection of woven items from different indigenous communities in the state. One of them is this Sosopilon, a backpack used by the Kadazandusun community in Tambunan.
This is an usunan. The Iranun nobility of Kota Belud used it to carry the groom to the bride’s house. it is also used to carry their dead.
This commemorative dinner set was made in conjunction with the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953 and was used at Sabah governors’ residence.
Some of the items displayed at Sabah Museum are private items donated by generous members of the public such as this pith helmet.
The design of the main building of Sabah Museum is inspired by a Rungus longhouse.
A row of classic cars on display outside Sabah Museum.
A panel explaining the local plants used as traditional medicines in Sabah.
Some of the primates and mammals which can be found in Sabah.
A sun bear which is commonly found throughout Southeast Asia including Sabah.
The Sambar Deer of Sabah Museum.
A bay owl.
A green turtle.
The different types of jars displayed at the Ceramic Gallery of Sabah Museum. These were used to store drinking water, rice food and also to make a local liquor called tapai.
Each of the ceramic ware has its own brief description allowing visitors to learn more about every artifact.
The ceramic collection at the Sabah Museum has different origins including China, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Japan and Europe. However, all of them were found in Sabah. It is believed that some of these ceramics were made as early as the 10th century.