KUCHING: The new Sarawak Museum building is going to be handed over to the Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Ministry within this week.

Its minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah told reporters this during his Hari Raya open house at Penview Convention Centre (PCC) Demak at Jalan Bako yesterday.

“Although it will be handed over to us soon, the new Sarawak Museum will not be opened to the public until the end of 2020.

Abdul Karim

“Of course, we cannot wait to showcase and let the public have a look, but every artifact or display in it must be accompanied by its historical write-up and this is causing the delay,” he said.

Despite that, Karim revealed that the ministry would try to arrange with the Museum Department to see if it could be opened to the public in phases.

He also that the museum would have interactive elements that would make it different from other museums in the state.

Work on the RM300 million new Sarawak Museum, which covered 7,000 sq metres, began in 2016 and covers.

Meanwhile, when asked if there would be entrance fees, Karim replied that there must be nominal charges as the museum upkeep was very high.

“If you visit museums in other places, you have to pay a very high entrance fee. In the United Kingdom, for instance, the entrance fees are between £20 and £25 per person, which is already a few hundred ringgit for us.

“I am looking at two-tier rates like Sarawak Cultural Village’s entrance fees. I feel locals and students must be given special prices.”

On the renovation of the old Sarawak Museum (Ethnology Museum), Karim said that it would still be used as a museum and that the ongoing renovation included the repair of the roof and interior of the building.

Karim also revealed that the ministry was considering reintroducing the State Aquarium which was first opened in the 1980s.

“The State Aquarium has not been approved by the government yet and is still in the pipeline. What makes it special are the metal frames which are considered antique.

“When I went to a British museum recently, the manufacturer of that aquarium has similar frames in the museum. So, this is all very fascinating,” he said.