International Museum Day was founded in 1997 by the International Council of Museums. The aim is to increase public awareness of the role of museums in the development of society. It has been gaining momentum ever since. Last year, it garnered record-breaking participation with more than 35,000 museums hosting events in some 145 countries.

Running on the theme ‘Museums for a Sustainable Society’, Perak hosted the national-level celebration this year under the auspices of the Perak State Museum Board. It highlighted the role of museums in raising public awareness about the need for a society that is less wasteful but more resourceful.

During the launch by Tourism and Culture Ministry Secretary-General Tan Sri Dr Ong Hong Peng, Ipoh Echo checked out one of the 23 booths displaying wares during the 4-day exhibition held at Ipoh Parade.

The booth picked was the one manned by the Penang State Museum Board which displayed the evolution of tiffin carriers. It is a compartmentalised food-storage unit consisting of two to four bowls of the same size, stacked on top of each other, with a lid on the top, sealed down with locks down the sides or top. It is believed that the British brought the tiffin carrier with them from India in the mid-1800s. In Penang, the container became an integral part of every Malay, Chinese, Nyonya and Indian household. However, in this age of fast food wrapped in plastic, tiffin carriers have been conveniently forgotten.

“The oldest tiffin carrier in our collection dates back to 1870. It has a stove inside to heat up the food and weighs 18kg without food. Could you imagine how strong the women were back then? They had to carry the carriers to their husbands who were working in the field,” Punita, a representative of the Penang State Museum Board told Ipoh Echo.

It was a walk-down-memory-lane for the oldies while for the kids they were mesmerised by over 80 pieces on display, some very rare and unusual.

Other activities held in conjunction with the celebration included museum run, heritage walk and seminars.

During the closing ceremony at the banquet hall of the State Secretariat Building, Penang State Museum and Art Gallery, Yayasan Warisan Johor and Army Museum Port Dickson won the Best Booth Award. Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry bin Abd Kadir presented the awards to the winners.

Kedah will be the host for International Museum Day 2016.

 

Mei Kuan