The long-term plan authorities have for the historic city of Melaka is for it to offer a whopping 21 museums. Unfortunately the emphasis is on quantity over quality, and has resulted in some spectacular bores. Read on to learn which museums are worth your ringgit.
Dutch Square isn’t just a bunch of pretty red buildings; The Stadthuys is also a sprawling museum complex. Formerly the governor’s residence, it’s been converted into a History and Ethnography Museum with an extensive collection covering everything from the colonial heydays to the present. With antique weapons, wooden houses, rice farming equipment and even wedding costumes, there really is something for everyone. The items are well-labelled and guided tours are available at 10:30 and 14:30 on Saturdays and Sundays. The admission fee also gets you into the Education Museum, Literature Museum, Admiral Cheng Ho Gallery, Governor Museum and Democratic Government Museum, but you might want to give those a miss.
For a museum that even the kids will love, head to the Maritime Museum along the river. Its star is a complete replica of the Flor de la Mar, a Portuguese ship that sank in 1511 in the Straits of Melaka. Admission is worth it just to climb aboard the vessel and explore the inner quarters, but the museum also has informative displays about early navigation techniques, life at sea and even Malaysia’s sea creatures.
If you’re interested in Melaka’s unique culture, don’t miss the Baba & Nyonya Heritage House near Jonker Street. The Baba Nyonya were the socialites of their time and known for their appreciation of the finer things in life, including beaded slippers, colourful porcelain and elaborate wedding beds. You can see many more examples at the museum, just be sure to join the guided tour to also hear the stories behind them – it’s included with the admission price.
If you’ve worked up an appetite, you can try authentic Baba Nyonya food next door at Café 1511 – this building used to be the servants’ quarters.
Stadthuys: Jalan Gereja; open daily 09:00–17:30; adults 10 ringgit, children 5 ringgit, children 6 and under free.
Maritime Museum: Jalan Quayside; (06) 283 0926; open Mon-Thurs 09:00–17:00, Fri-Sun 09:00–20:30; adults 6 ringgit, children 2 ringgit, children 6 and under free.
Baba & Nyonya Heritage House: 50 Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock; (06) 283 1273; open Mon-Thurs 10:00–13:00, Fri-Sun 14:00–16:30; adults 10 ringgit, children (under 12) 5 ringgit.
By Tanya Procyshyn
Last updated on 1st September, 2014.