MUSEUMS   

Brunei Darussalam's richly endowed cultural heritage has been steadfastly maintained until today. The setting up of the Arts and Handicraft Centre in 1975 is a living testimony of the preservation and proliferation of the arts and crafts of the bygone days which Brunei was renowned for; such as boat making, silver-smiting, bronze tooling, cloth weaving as well as mat and basket weaving.

Relics and other various artistic heritage of Brunei Darussalam, The Brunei Museum at besides the ones mentioned above, include Malay weaponry, wood carvings, traditional games, traditional musical instruments, 'silat' (the traditional art of self defence) and decorative items for women.

Some of these are kept in the Brunei Museum and the Malay Technology Museum; not only for the world to see but also for today's generation to admire and be proud of.

These artefacts are also for future generations to emulate perhaps, and to remind us of our forefather's natural skills, creativity and innovativeness which over generations has been said to be one of the richest traditional cultures in the Malay world.

The Arts and Handicraft Training Centre

Built on the banks of the Brunei River, the Arts and Handicraft Centre was established as a haven for the learning and preservation of traditional Bruneian knowledge and skills learnt in an era when trade was the mainstay of the economy. In those days, cottage industries were started in the making of silver, brass and other artefacts but with the onslaught of time, these skills have all but been forgotten, save for the efforts that are now being made to preserve them.

On display at the centre are intricately designed brocades called kain tenunan, woven using gold or silver threads. Lengths of kain tenunan are highly valued as heirlooms and as collectors' pieces, and have been woven and worn to mark ceremonial occasions for centuries. Hand-tooled silver jewellery and artefacts, including ornamental cannons and replicas of the ancient snakelike Malay dagger known as the Keris can also be admired and purchased from the centre's handicraft shop. Other traditional crafts displayed include handmade boats, baskets, mats and other woven crafts.

The Brunei Museum at Kota Batu On the banks of the Brunei River, about 6.5km from the heart of Bandar Seri Begawan, stretches the elongated shape of the Brunei Museum.

Its collection includes Borneo Ethnography and Natural History displays as well as Islamic art documenting the origins of much of, Brunei's culture. From their softly lit niches, illuminated intricate renderings of the Holy Quran and centuries-old glassware, ceramics, jewellery, tapestries and military artefacts bear silent witness to the artisans' skill and devotion.

Other displays include ancient Chinese ceramics recovered from the seabed during an offshore oil pipeline survey and an Oil and Gas Gallery.

The National Archive of Brunei Darussalam

Established under the administration of the Brunei Museum Department in 1977 as a support section, the National Archive of Brunei Darussalam which is situated at Jalan Menteri Besar keeps and preserves public archives and public records of Brunei Darussalam in accordance with the Brunei Darussalam National Archive Act.

The Art Gallery

Art is the still-life of the times. What better way is there to experience or to document the feelings of the past and present than through the medium of art. The Art Gallery located next to the Brunei Arts and Handicraft Training Centre at Jalan Residency aims to promote and educate the public about art - through exhibitions. Here, local artists are also given opportunities to nurture their natural talents through organised training.

Malay Technology Museum

The rapid development of modern technology which penetrates local culture seems to
suggest that the indigenous technologies of Brunei Darussalam such as cottage industries and handicraft are very much on the brink of extinction.

Without proper documentation these indigenous technologies will likely be lost forever. The Malay Technology Museum was specially established to document, collect and exhibit these indigenous technologies for the benefit of future generations.

On display are the architectural structures of Kampung Ayer houses (the first settlement in Brunei) from the late 19th century up to mid 20th century and their traditional technologies such as boat making, gold, brass and silver smiting, cloth weaving and fishing crafts. The Malay Technology Museum is located next to the Brunei Museum at Kota Batu, 7km from Bandar Seri Begawan the building was donated by the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies, in conjunction with Brunei Darussalam's independence in 1984.

The Museum was officially opened by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Negara Brunei Darussalam on 29th February 1988.

The Royal Regalia Building

The Royal Regalia Building was officially opened on 30 September 1992 by His Majesty Paduka Seri Baginda Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Negara Brunei Darussalam. The building integrates various characteristics of the philosophy of Malay Islamic Monarchy and has become another outstanding landmark of Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of Brunei Darussalam.

Displaying a large number of the Royal Regalia inherited from generation to generation, these items are glorious symbols of the Brunei Darussalam Government. The building consists of four galleries:

1. Royal Regalia (Coronation, 1968)
This area displays regalia used during the Coronation of His Majesty Paduka Seri Baginda Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Negara Brunei Darussalam.

2. Royal Exhibition Gallery
This area briefly documents the life history of His Majesty Paduka Seri Baginda Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Negara Brunei Darussalam from childhood days up to the time of his coronation.

A combination of photographs is also exhibited such as performing the pilgrimage to Mecca and the delivery of a sermon during the Hari Raya Aidil Fitri at the Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque on 5 April 1992.

3. Silver Jubilee Gallery
The Silver Jubilee Gallery chronicles the historic Silver Jubilee celebration on 5th October 1992 of His Majesty Paduka Seri Baginda Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Negara Brunei Darussalam's ascension to the throne.

Models, dioramas, photographs, objects and videos are combined to document among others:

(1)The Royal Carriage used during the Royal Procession and the accompanying Royal Regalia,
(2) A Pemajangan replica (the decorative structure erected at the main entrance area of the palace which is adorned with various types of royal banners and insignia during the royal function), and
(3) Gifts and souvenirs presented to His Majesty by local and foreign dignitaries, the people of Brunei ministries, private organisations, educational institutions and individuals.

4. Constitutional History Gallery

Phases in the development of Brunei's constitutional history are outlined in this gallery.

Audio-visual aids and archival material help to explain the pre-1959 period, the 1959 Constitution and Agreement, the 1971 Agreement, the 1979 Agreement, the Proclamation of Independence in 1984 and the post-independence structure of Government.

Merimbun Heritage Park

Merimbun Heritage Park (MHP) is located in Mukim Rambai, Tutong District, 24km from Tutong Town. It is accessible by car and is about one and a half hour's drive from Bandar Seri Begawan.

The Merimbun Heritage Park or Tasek Merimbun is under the management of Brunei Museums Department, Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, Brunei Darussalam.

Efforts to declare
Tasek Merimbun and its environment as a nature reserve began as early as 1967 at the initiative of the Director of the Museums, PM. Sarifuddin, the controller of the Wildlife Protection 1978. In 1984, Tasek Merimbun was placed under the management of the Ministry of Development.

Tasek Merimbun is unique in that it is the largest black water lake in Brunei Darussalam. Consisting of two shallow bodies of black water joined by a narrow channel, the water is black because the segment of the tributary that the locals’ call Sungai Meluncur flows through the peat swamp forest, bringing with it deposits that darken the river.

The surface areas of the two lakes are approximately 100 and 120 hectares and the whole area of MHP is 7,800 hectares.

Apart from the lakes, recovered graves in this area also show the presence of the Dusun ethnic group who is believed to have settled there 500 years ago.

Tasek Merimbun was declared as one of Asean National Heritage Sites on 29th November 1984, at the second Asean Ministerial Meeting on the Environment in Bangkok, Thailand.

In honour of this international recognition, $5 million dollars was allocated by the Government during the 6th National Development Plan for developing facilities at MHP and to establish a national park that would also incorporate extensive forest areas adjacent to the lake.

The Tomb of Sultan Bolkiah

Between 1485 and 1524, the remarkable and enigmatic Sultan Bolkiah ruled Brunei. Better known as Nakhoda Ragam, or the Singing Admiral, he was known as a seafarer, warrior and artist. Sultan Bolkiah spent large amounts of time at sea, journeying far throughout the Southeast Asian archipelago.

His fleet visited Java and Malacca, and conquered Sulu and Manila in the Philippines. Sultan Bolkiah was the fifth ruler of Islamic Brunei and his reign is known as the nation's golden age.

Sultan Bolkiah died at sea, and his mausoleum and adjoining cemetery garden grace the banks of the Brunei River where the ancient capital is believed to have been sited - off Jalan Kota Batu near the Brunei Museum. --Courtesy of Brunei Year Book