My cousin and I had been awaiting this day for some time. We went down at about 2pm and met the crowd first in the "BaBazaar" which was on the carpark next door and then in the Museum itself. Many Nonyas and Babas came dressed for the occasion, chitchatting with friends, looking at the stalls and sampling the food. I have to admit that I did not try the food. It looked just the stuff I get around home - Chilli Padi (on Joo Chiat Rd), Guan Hoe Soon (Joo Chiat Rd), Rumah Kim Choo (East Coast Road) - you get the picture. There were also stalls there from the Peranakan Association and the Penang Peranakan society. There was also a lovely jewellery stall selling modern versions of the gorgeous old pieces - but the prices were such that put me off impulse buys. We also stuck around for the chendol making demonstration, of which more later.
The queue into the museum itself was pretty long, stretching outside the building and next to the BaBazaar. But we were happy to wait. The crowds just inside were also quite substantial and we went straight to the second floor, skipping the first room on "origins". The second floor features mainly the Baba and Nonya wedding rituals, whilst the third floor, the activities of daily life - the clothing, the jewellry, food and crockery, religion, and a special exhibition, "Junk to Jewels: The Things that Peranakans Value". Lots of lovely examples of beautiful beaded work (photo shows one sample). One special exhibit: Dr Goh Keng Swee's golf club, with which he had hit his third hole-in-one. There are also lots of interactive elements, mainly for children.
I don't really intend to go into the details of the collection. What really struck me was the strong feeling of connection which visitors seemed to have with the exhibits. There was an old, dainty Nonya walking around the museum hand-in-hand with her grandson. Dressed in her sarong kebaya and kasut manek, she was commenting about the exhibits to him. You hear people say comments like "Didn't my mother have something like this...." Truly, this is a people's museum indeed.
More photos of the museum found here.