The Made in Penang Interactive 3D Museum is more than the sheer fun of posing with trick art or 3D murals. With all the artworks done by Penang artists (and hence the name), the museum has combined fun, culture and history of Penang into intriguing displays that allows you to have a quick and easy understanding of Penang. Essentially, it’s Penang in a nutshell, where you explore 5 different sections of the museum including 1. Great Wall of Penang, 2. Miniature Local Trades, 3. Miniature Weld Quay, 4. Trick Art Gallery and 5. Interactive Theater. (P.S. Recommend your “must-go” places or “must-eat” foods on Millennium Hotels and Resorts Asia’s “Travel Inspired: The Local’s City Map –> http://bit.ly/TheLocalsCity” to get a 35% discount on hotel bookings and win attractive prizes! )
At the end of the tunnel, there is surprise where CM Lim Guan Ying awaits you for a cup of coffee with his signature smile!
The miniature trades and miniature Weld Quay are all made by artist Mr Khoo Chooi Hooi, who has literally put a piece himself into his own work. The little boy that’s getting a haircut in front of a house is modeled after himself, with his mother waiting with a stick to subdue any possible havoc. It was a time when there were no proper barber shops and the barbers were mobile. Mr Khoo appears in several pieces of his works, so have a chit chat with the super friendly and knowledgeable staff that’s serving visitors. They will have a whole lot to tell you to complete your experience.
All the sculptures have amazing details that need to be looked at closely. Sure there’s gotta be some hair after a hair cut right ? ( It’s Mr Khoo’s hair actually…)
Durians, dubbed as King of Fruits and mangosteens, dubbed as Queen of Fruits are often sold together, not because King and Queen always have to be together but because durians are “heaty” in nature whereas mangosteens are “cooling” in nature so eating them together will provide a balanced internal well being.
Durians are not plucked and they fall to the ground once ripened – which is reflected in the sculpture, where durians don’t only have sharp spikes, but have dented or blunt spikes as a result of abrasion when falling to the ground.
Mangosteens too have scrupulous details where they are made with different numbers of green “petals” at the bottom of the fruit – the number of green “petals” translates to the number of fruit fleshes within the mangosteen.
Bamboo Rice (or lemang) is a festival food during puasa period where glutinous rice is placed in bamboo cylinders and cooked by charcoal.
Mamak stores are popular hangout places where you drink a cup of foamy teh tarik or eat a piece of freshly tossed roti canai. The mamak stores initially observed night opening hours and hence this piece of sculpture is in black to depict a night scene with shady lights.
Some traditional trades are on the verge of disappearing like the making of wooden clogs (or “Cha Kiak” in Penang Hokkien) with only two makers left in Penang, one in Air Itam and one in Jalan Perak. The “uncle” in the sculpture is the one from Air Itam.
Adjacent to the Miniature Trades is the Miniature Weld Quay. Everything here is about the history of Penang. More than 100 years ago, the trading of spices (in yellow crates), the demand of pewter & charcoal,
The building where the museum is currently located used to belong to Behn Meyers that had established themselves in Penang in 1891. When Behn Meyers evacuated the premises, there were lots of valuable documents about the building’s history, Penang’s history that were passed down to the successive owner and the miniature Weld Quay was made with reference to these documents. If you look at the facade, all the windows seem to have a triangular decor on top, except for one, which is domed shaped. The dome acts as an identifier to the main door of the warehouse, so all the ships will know where to unload their goods. Clever right?
Most visitors didn’t spend too much time at the miniature sections but if you look at the sculptures closely, there’s lots of amazing details to be discovered. You can see veins, muscles and even sweat on the figurines
Moving onto the Trick Art Gallery, which was everyone’s favorite and children were having a blast at this section of the museum. I have a few favorites at this section – the splendor of the Peranakan culture is depicted in a room with two parallel dimensions in and out of the mirror – you must check out the museum to see how it’s done!
In terms of food, the Penang Char Koay Teow is one of the most representing among local delights that any stores selling char koay teow outside Penang must have a sign that say something along the lines of “famous Penang Char Koay Teow” to ensure the dish’s authenticity.
The tradition of “da xiao ren” – literally meaning “hitting little people”, with the “little people” referring to anyone that’s back stabbing, or any malicious person that tries to pull you down. The act is done with clogs (or any shoes, slippers for that matter), pounding on a piece of paper with names of “little people”, to get rid of them. Superstitious but extremely fun when presented in a fun visual statement.
Meet Dr Sun Yet Sun，who seemed to have popped out from the local “Kwang Hua Jit Poh” newspaper which was founded by him; almost like figures climbing out from paintings in Harry Potter movies. Dr Sun was a revolutionary figure who played an important role in overthrowing the Qing Dynasty and was also the first provisional president of China . Dr Sun often visited south east Asia to gain support from the overseas Chinese and Penang was of of the places that served as a base for his uprising plans.
Penang Bridge is undoubtedly the most iconic landmark of Penang and if you are lucky, you might be able to sight dolphins swimming around the bridge.
Trishaws are commonly seen roaming around Georgetown and they are one of the best ways to explore Georgetown where walking on foot might be too tiring and driving around might just leave you frustrated trying to look for limited parking in small lanes.
The Snake Temple is a popular tourist attraction in Penang. The snake might have been portrayed as viciously poking through the glass but they were pretty docile when I visited the temple, just laying around not doing much. The snakes have been devenomed though for safety precaution.
There’s many versions of how Love Lane got its name – some says it was named after a British soldier with the surname “Love” and some says that it was a lane were mistresses or second wives were hid away by rich tycoons. Whichever it is, the lane definitely has the most romantic road name in Penang.
Penang really is a big melting pot of cultures with a bit of everything- Malayan, Chinese, Peranakan, and Indian. Tan Sri Datuk P Ramlee was an important Malayan man who was a forerunner in the entertainment industry between the 1950’s and the 1970’s, multitasking in all areas taking up roles as director, actor, song writer, singer and composer. Needless to say, if a 3D mural of him is found inside the the museum, it only means one thing that he was from Penang. There’s a also P Ramlee Museum on Jalan P Ramlee in Penang.
Dr Wu Lien Teh was born in Penang and received a prestigious scholarship to study medicine in the UK. With his medical degree, he spearheaded the modernization of healthcare in China, played a major role in saving thousands of lives during the bubonic outbreak in 1910 and setting up 20 hospitals and medical colleges. He was also the first Chinese to be nominated for the Nobel Price in 1935. OK – this part of history is something new for me, so there’s always something new to learn!
Being the pearl of the orient and along the straits of Malacca, Penang is a place where many immigrants from China and India settled, bringing cultures from their country like the Chinese Opera;
the Henna Tattoo from India,
and the tradition of smashing coconuts during the Indian Thaipusam festival.
And with Penang not being too far away from the southern borders of Thailand, you will discover traces of Thailand, be it Thai temples or Thai food; with tom yam being one of the most popular dishes among Penangites, be it cooked with red paste, with clear soup, in steamboat or in coconuts.
“Songkran”, the Thai water festival is celebrated in Penang in April among the Thai community too.
There’s way too many trick art pieces in the museum to explain one by one, so the best part is to visit the museum and have a go at it! Here are a few more trick art pieces :
Turtles from Kek Lok Si Temple;
Siamese Fish Fighting;
Cannons of Fort Cornwallis;
Durians & fruits;
The betel nut tree where Penang got its name from; “Penang” is a Malay word for betel nut;
Tossing of roti canai and pulling of teh tarik,
The making of dragon joss sticks used for prayers in temples,
Lastly, remember to check out the theater at the end of your tour which showcases a brief history about Penang! Enjoy!
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Made in Penang Interactive Museum Facebook
Address: No. 3 Pengkalan Weld, 10300 George Town, Penang, Malaysia.
Opening Hours : Daily 9 am – 6 pm.
Admission Fee : Adults RM 15 (with Mykad), Children RM 10 (with Mykad), Adults RM 30 (without Mykad).
Tel : 04 2626 119