Traveling in the bewildering capital of Malaysia can be confusing, and the abundance of museums and so-called “memorials” can be off-putting to visitors with a limited amount of time. The following four institutions are safe bets for the culturally inclined.
1) National Museum (Muzium Negara)—With a history that dates back to 1888, the National Museum (formerly the Selangor Museum) rose to prominence organically, receiving its designation in 1963 after its prestige made it the obvious choice. Exhibitions focus on art and artifacts highlighting the country’s rich cultural and historical heritage.
2) Islamic Arts Museum—The Islamic Arts Museum houses a collection of Islamic art that rivals anything you’re likely to find in the West. Apart from the two large galleries, the Museum also houses a children’s library, retail shop, restaurant, and fountain garden. This museum is ideally located in the tourist district and is within walking distance of the National Mosque, Birds Park, and National Planetarium.
3) National Museum of History—Situated near the High Courts and Royal Selangor Club, the National History Museum houses exhibits that painstakingly cover periods in Malaysian history, including the pre-historic ages, megalithic period, rise of Islam, Johor-Riau Empire, Malacca sultanate, colonial era, and the modern day. An added benefit is price of admission, which is free.
4) Pucuk Rebung Gallery/Museum—Featuring a similar focus on Malay history, the Pucuk Rebung houses an extensive collection of Malaysian art and artifacts from various historical periods, with a special emphasis on the early 20th century. Of particular interest is the Peranakan Jewelry Collection exhibit, which includes necklaces, corsages, and, seemingly unrelated, an impressive collection of ornately decorated silverware and tea sets.