The new Sabah State Museum was set-up in July, 1965 and was originally located in a shop house along Gaya Street in Kota Kinabalu. The original Sabah Museum was set-up in Sandakan in the year 1866 but was destroyed during World War II. The new State Museum was shifted to its present larger location called the Old Place Hill (Bukit Istana Lama) which used to be the governor of 'British North Borneo' residence in 1984. The new location sits atop a small hill and is about 43 acres wide and is surrounded by lush greenery.
The Sabah Statae Museum in Kota Kinabalu is the best place for tourists on Sabah vacation to get fast and informative facts about Sabah's history, its culture and heritage within one location. The building is designed by local architect to symbolize the Spirit of Sabah with its diverse ethnic groups living in harmony together. The museum is quite big and can be categorized into the following sections or attractions such as:
- A four-storey main structure built to represents a longhouse with a peculiar roof top architecture which was built based on the traditional Rungus and Murut longhouse. The roof beams are built to symbolize the Sumazau dance and rows of Moslems during prayer time. This building houses the Ethnography section, Natural History, Ceramics exhibition and History and Archaeology Galleries. The ceramics collection here is quite extensive and on display here are dishes, bowls and other ceramics items from various China's Dynasty and other Asian countries. The Natural History section exhibit the many native animals, birds and insects that are found in Sabah and Borneo and the main attraction here is the mounted Sumatra rhino, an animal which is almost extinct now.
- The Science and Technology Center which was built like a cone-shaped reed dish cover and has the following attractions:
- The Art Gallery which display various paintings by some of Sabah famous painters.
- The oil and gas production and history in Sabah exhibition
- The broadcasting history and technology in Sabah exhibition.
- The history of the North Borneo Railway in Sabah.
- The building which houses the Conservation Center is designed to look like a traditional betel-nut box. However, this section is not open to the public.
- The Heritage Village which showcase the cultural, heritage and lifestyles of the various ethnic groups in Sabah. This is the place to see and experience the unique architecture difference between the various traditional houses of Sabah and the everyday items of the people. Some of the houses on display here are the Bajau House, the Murut longhouse, a traditional Chinese wooden house and a house made from bamboo.
- Ethno botanical Garden is a small garden in the Sabah Museum area which is planted with various trees and plants to give visitors a look into the various plants that are commonly used by the people in their daily life for food, medicine or decoration purposes. A small Montane Garden can also be seen at the grounds of the State Museum.
Sabah State Museum Aerial View
Getting There: Sabah Museum is situated at Jalan Bukit Istana Lama, Kota Kinabalu. It is about 2.5 miles (4 km) from KK City Center. The best way to come here during your Sabah Vacation is by using a taxi which will take about 15 minutes from the KK City Centre.