Monday, December 20, 2010

Penang State Museum

I'm in the museum mood these days... this is the 4th museum I've visited this month. The Penang State Museum - the last time I visited it was when I was really small and I don't think I could understand much back then.
Penang State Museum
I think it's good to visit a local museum at the start of any trips so as to get a better picture of the place you are visiting. It's like doing a background check thing. Helps you know a person you're about to hire/interview better. For a place you're about to visit, it helps you appreciate the value and aesthetic beauty of the place. I wished I had gone to the museum first before we went round The Heritage Trail. But it was closed on the day we planned to visit it. Anyway, the building used to house the Penang Free School which now is in Green Lane.

I finally can see why Penang is called The Pearl of the Orient. Penang was truly beautiful in the days of Francis Light. They have such beautiful paintings of the scenery and the mansions built by the colonialists at the museum. Back in the old days, there were no cameras. So we have only paintings to rely on. The colonialists came and built many mansions with beautiful and spacious gardens. I guess it's something to remind them of home. Only that in this part of the world, the gardens are green throughout the year. Britain gets really dreary during winter. Suffolk House was one such house built back in the old days. You've got to see it to see what I mean; truly breathtaking and reflects the beauty of a pearl. And I didn't know that Penang was originally called Pulau Ka Satu too. You always learn something new when you go to the museums.

The Penang State Museum has more paintings than artifacts, which is understandable given the fact that Penang history is actually quite recent, unlike Kedah which is a seat to older civilizations. But the paintings and pictures brought to life many of the old streets as well as buildings. It also gave a very good account of its progress on a timeline, which always serves to build a better understanding and appreciation.

Also I learned that the British too had slaves to maintain those beautiful mansions with their undulating surroundings. Got that from reading Sir Francis Light's will. The rise of any society often means the enslavement of another, quite true also in today's society even though enslavement has taken on a more palatable form today.
Church of the Assumption,Penang
Next to the museum is the Church of Assumption which was built in the 19th century. I tried to read up more about it and learned the difference between a church and a cathedral. It was recorded that the church was elevated to the status of a Cathedral in 1955, which enable it to hold the seat of a Bishop. Interesting! 8)

Hannah said I was kiasu when I told her that I had read up about Rummikub after she asked me over the phone (before we met up) whether my kids had played with it. That's just me... it's not the kiasuness which compels me to find out more. I just want to know.... for the fun of it. 8) Sometimes, knowing all these has also made me realize that there are many similarities we share with those before us.

And hurray! Today the SPM ends for my school... it means I can finally have this off my mind! Else I've to keep reminding myself of the last day so that I can go back to school to collect the school's harta pusaka from the Chief Invigilator. So I went to school this morning, cleared all the stuff and I'm finally done for the year... where school is concerned! Can 'sau-tong'

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