From one island to another, there is no doubt that there’s a good list of similarities. Like Singapore, Penang has a rather prominent Peranakan community, and the Tiger and I went down to the Mansion during our trip.
Famed for being a filming location for Singapore’s “The Little Nyonya”, this museum has expanded to four different galleries, and has guided tours for groups with more than five people. Upon entering, you are greeted with the main courtyard of the main house, with an open roof in the middle of the building similar to old Chinese-style houses. In order to cover the place for a bit, the Tiger and I decided to start with the rooms upstairs.
The second level of the Peranakan Mansion featured two main bridal rooms – one which featured a more traditional set up, which also displayed old sewing machines and nyonya kebayas which were on loan. The second room with the more modern set up, however, featured more influences from the west, including porcelain figurines, and blown glass used to decorate the house.
(Note: One thing about the second room though, it was pretty creepy upon the first entrance, since the place was relatively dim and the first thing you end up seeing is usually the wedding dress, which was laid out over a red, bridal bed.)
At the same time, the second level also featured the set ups of various rooms in a typical Peranakan house – the sitting room, dining sets, and beaded slippers. While most of them may seem commonplace or something you would see in your grandparents’ cupboard, the sheer variety of it was a sight on its own.
The first level provided a route to the other galleries, as well a few galleries set up like dining, sitting, or study rooms. The collections were extensive, ranging from the traditional artefacts from the old times, to the western influences that came later.
Accompanying galleries included a VIP area featuring donations from esteemed patrons, a high-security, no-cameras-allowed gallery of Peranakan jewellery and ornaments, and a Nyonya Kitchen gallery which doubled up as a café and snack store.
What fascinated me about the Peranakan Museum itself was the great variety which they presented to all visitors. While the layout was not very directional, unless you had a guide, the amount of exhibits and set ups will keep you interested for a while.
The Tiger was quite interested in the gallery of Peranakan jewellery, though it was quite a pity that he was not able to sketch or draw anything there itself. We were not allowed photos, but it was quite informative and better curated as well, so it was pretty easy to self-direct in that particular gallery.
And that ends my journey through the Pinang Peranakan Mansion. To find out more about this museum, click here.