This multi-part museum offers a crash course in Sabah’s culture and history, and is a lifesaver on a rainy day.
The unusual fish-bone-like architecture of the Sabah Museum was inspired by traditional tribal dwellings and houses a diverse, yet slightly dry, collection of ethnographical and historical artefacts and zoological specimens labelled in English. It’s dusty and old-fashioned, but they are making a nod to modernisation with interactive barcodes if you have a smartphone.
The collection includes an interesting exhibition of tribal headhunting curiosities with weapons and skulls. On the second floor is a sad display of taxidermied animals, many almost extinct in the jungles of Borneo. Other exhibitions include local history; archaeology with fascinating coffins found in caves in the North of Sabah displayed in a replica cave; ceramics; an interactive display of musical instruments for you to bang, strum and blow; basketware and clothing. A whale skeleton displays a Guinness Book of Records certificate for being the largest bryde whale skeleton. Collections of cars, steam engines and printing presses rust outside.
For more interaction, cross the river via a swinging bridge to enter the Heritage Village with replicas of traditional architecture from the indigenous groups of Sabah, surrounding a lotus-filled pond.
Included with the price of admission is entrance to several gardens, the Sabah Art Gallery, the Islamic Civilization Museum and a small Science and Technology Gallery focused largely on the oil and gas industry, all within the complex.
The gift shop sells non-fiction books on the history and cultures of Sabah as well as the knick-knacks you see at the markets for reasonable fixed prices. A cafe serving local, Western and Chinese fare is open daily 07:00-17:00.
Photography is not permitted inside the buildings.
For a more lively overview of the traditional cultures of Sabah, Mari Mari Cultural Village offers slightly cheesy daily interactive shows.
How to get there
Bus No 13 (towards Penampang) from the front of City Hall or Wawasan Plaza will take about 15 minutes (1 ringgit). Ask the driver to let you off near Sabah Museum. It's a 10-minute walk to the entrance. A taxi from the city will cost 20 ringgit.
By Sally Arnold
Last updated on 8th November, 2016.