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Penang State Museum

This school-turned-museum charts Penang’s colorful history through a comprehensive collection of artifacts, photographs and artworks.

Step back in time at the Penang State Museum and see how the city’s cultural, physical and political identity has changed since the days of Sir Francis Light, the founder of the British colony in Penang in the 1800s. A series of photographs, complemented by first-hand accounts of key events, paint a vivid picture of the city’s history. A wide array of artifacts, including a collection of antiques that once belonged to prominent Chinese Straits families, help bring Penang’s history to life.

This museum was founded in 1964, though the former school house it inhabits was built in 1821. High arches and tall white columns exemplify Penang’s fine architectural features. The building is divided into two sections: a gallery featuring numerous collections of work by local and international artists, and the exhibits charting the history of the city.

The photographs chronicling Penang’s story are a good place to start exploring the museum. Don’t miss the series on the Penang Riots of 1867, or the pictures detailing Penang’s capture by the Japanese during World War II. To see Penang as the early British colonists would have, check out the oil paintings by Captain Robert Smith of the East India Company. Chinese Penang is well represented too, with a replica of the main hall of a Chinese trader’s home. This exhibit displays an extensive collection of furniture such as opium beds, and opulent accessories like slippers and jewelry belonging to prominent Straits Chinese families.

Art lovers will want to head to the first floor, where ever-changing exhibits showcase local artists. Among the permanent collections are a series of paintings celebrating Malay seamanship, and several representations of old Penang.

Don’t miss the souvenir kiosk outside. This is actually a railway car from the old Penang Hill service and makes for an interesting setting as you browse the antiques and gifts on sale.

The Penang State Museum is located on Farquar Street in central Georgetown, along major bus lines. The museum is open daily, except Friday and public holidays, and there is a small charge for entry.


Guide to Exploring around Penang State Museum


Best Lodging Options Near Penang State Museum

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JEN Penang Georgetown by Shangri-La $52
JEN Penang Georgetown by Shangri-La

JEN Penang Georgetown by Shangri-La

Magazine Road, George Town, Penang
     
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    This family-friendly George Town hotel is located in a shopping district, within a 5-minute walk of KOMTAR, 1st Avenue Mall, and Prangin Mall.

    Bayview Hotel Georgetown Penang $25
    Bayview Hotel Georgetown Penang

    Bayview Hotel Georgetown Penang

    25-A Farquhar Street, Georgetown, George Town, Penang
       
      4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      This family-friendly George Town hotel is located by the sea, within a 10-minute walk of Penang State Museum and Penang City Hall. KOMTAR and Penang Times Square are also within 1 mi (2 km).

      Eastern And Oriental Hotel $137
      Eastern And Oriental Hotel

      Eastern And Oriental Hotel

      10 Lebuh Farquhar, George Town, Penang
         
        5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        This family-friendly George Town hotel is located on the waterfront, within a 15-minute walk of Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion and Penang City Hall. KOMTAR and Penang Times Square are also within 1 mi (2 km).

        Loop On Leith George Town Penang Hotel by Compass Hospitality $21
        Loop On Leith George Town Penang Hotel by Compass Hospitality

        Loop On Leith George Town Penang Hotel by Compass Hospitality

        29 Leith Street, George Town, Penang
           
          3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Downtown George Town, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, KOMTAR, and Penang City Hall. Gurney Drive and Penang Times Square are also within 2 mi (3 km).

          Cheong Fatt Tze - The Blue Mansion $88
          Cheong Fatt Tze - The Blue Mansion

          Cheong Fatt Tze - The Blue Mansion

          14, Leith Street, George Town, George Town, Penang
             
            4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Downtown George Town, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, KOMTAR, and Penang City Hall. Gurney Drive and Penang Times Square are also within 2 mi (3 km).

            Seven Terraces Hotel $117
            Seven Terraces Hotel

            Seven Terraces Hotel

            Stewart Lane, Georgetown, George Town, Penang
               
              4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Downtown George Town, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Kuan Yin Teng and Penang City Hall. KOMTAR and Penang Times Square are also within 1 mi (2 km).

              Red Inn Court $9
              Red Inn Court

              Red Inn Court

              No. 35B & 35C, Jalan Mesjid, Kapitan Keling, Georgetown, George Town, Penang
                 
                2.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Downtown George Town, this hostel is within a 10-minute walk of Goddess of Mercy Temple and Penang City Hall. KOMTAR and Penang Times Square are also within 1 mi (2 km).

                Silver Shine Guesthouse $23
                Silver Shine Guesthouse

                Silver Shine Guesthouse

                7 Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, George Town, Pulau Pinang
                   
                  0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Downtown George Town, this guesthouse is within a 10-minute walk of St. George's Church and Penang City Hall. KOMTAR and Gurney Drive are also within 2 mi (3 km).