Maritime Museum, Kota Batu park may open 'soon'

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports YB Pehin Dato Hj Hazair (C) being shown around the archives exhibition by Hjh Fatimah Hj Ali (R), chief archives officer and Director of Museums Bantong Antaran (L). Picture: BT/Quratul-Ain Bandial

THE long-awaited Maritime Museum and Kota Batu Archeological Park may soon see the light of day as top officials said the sites might open to the public "soon" but gave no firm date or time frame.

Speaking to The Brunei Times, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Hj Hazair Hj Abdullah said the unveiling of Maritime Museum - originally slated for 2010 according to a previous report - was progressing but several procedures still remained.

"It is on the way. It will take some time because there are some processes that we have to undergo but otherwise... it's progressing. But as soon as possible."

The $4.7 million building was completed in 2008 and contains three viewing galleries documenting Brunei's maritime and nautical history as well a laboratory for archeological work.

Excavations by the Maritime Museum Section are being carried out at several sites around the country with many ceramic artifacts already uncovered.

According to the Museums Department's triannual magazine Berita Muzium, their staff recently conducted research at Kota Batu River, Limau Manis River, Kg Tumasek, Pulau Muara Besar and Pulau Chermin - the site of the 17th century palace of Sultan Abdul Hakkul Mubin, the 13th Sultan of Brunei.

Pulau Cermin is now protected by the Antiquities and Treasure Trove Act and is inaccessible to visitors unless they have permission to visit the island.

Acting Deputy Director of Museums Pg Dr Karim Pg Hj Osman added that the Kota Batu Archeological Park, the site of Brunei's ancient capital, would be open to the public upon completion of an additional building to be constructed near the information centre.

"The park is going to be open soon, we are still waiting to build another building near the information centre... It will be open soon. We don't know when yet."

Pg Dr Karim, who is also the curator of Archaeology at the department, said there has been no significant discovery since the unearthing of a defensive wall and gate to the ancient city but that archaeologists are still searching for the mosque and Sultan's palace buried in the 120-acre site.

Ceramic artifacts dating back 500 to 600 years have also been found in the area. The site is being developed at a cost of $2 million under the Ninth National Development Plan.

Pehin Dato Hj Hazair added that the department plans to extend museum artifacts to each district in the country in order to highlight the locale's culture and history.

"The extension of the museum gallery to bring artifacts of past civilisations closer to society so they can appreciate it ... What the young generation is enjoying today is from the past. So from that, they know their roots and past history." The Brunei Times

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