The Palong Tin Museum in Kinta River Walk was opened about a year ago. It is one of the initiatives of the Morubina Group as part of their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) project. However, many residents in Ipoh are not aware of its existence.
The notice board on the door of the building states that the museum is open daily from 6pm to 11pm, entrance fee is RM2 for adults and show times are at 8pm, 9pm and 10pm. When I went there at 8pm, the only person around was the Nepali security guard who said there is no entrance fee and there are no shows. They were supposed to show a video on ‘Operational Palong’. There were a few other visitors.
There are only a few exhibits inside the building, a tin ingot, samples of tin ore and other items. The main attraction is the large size aerial photograph of Old Town. There is a detailed write-up of the tin industry from the early 1800s to the present. During the official opening it was stated that there will be a guide to brief visitors on the history of tin mining, but there was no guide.
There is a spiral staircase to the basement and there are a couple of exhibits and a TV with three benches in front. The exit doors are closed and in case of emergency one cannot get out.
There are more exhibits outside the building; a half-century old palong is on display. Various other equipment and machinery used in the mining industry are on display. There are also huts with thatched roofs with machinery inside. The huts are not maintained and weeds and creepers are growing. There is no write-up about the exhibits and visitors do not know the function of the equipment.
A visit to the museum is supposed to be an educational outing, where visitors can learn about tin mining history in Kinta Valley. With no explanation or guide it does not serve its purpose. Lighting is not adequate and the place is dark at night when the museum is officially open.
Kong Cheok Loon, Admin Manager who is in charge of the museum agreed that the museum is not well known and attempts are being made to procure more exhibits. He said publicity is needed to promote the museum to local residents and outstation tourists.
The museum is supposed to be a tourist attraction; however opening hours may not be attractive for tour operators to bring tourists. During late evenings, tour operators would be taking tourists to night markets and food courts.
Morubina put up the museum with good intention, but they may not have the expertise to operate it. They must team up with the right people to run it. More exhibits and publicity is needed. Videos about the mining industry can be screened. The opening hours must be reviewed.