Situated within Merdeka Square along Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin, the National Textiles Museumis hailed as one of the most significant heritage landmarks in Kuala Lumpur city centre. Open tothe public in 2010, the museum showcases the process and technology of textiles, and housesexquisite collections of traditional apparel, accessories, and textiles in Malaysia in a beautifulMughal-Islamic style heritage building. Designed by Arthur Charles Alfred Norman (who alsocontributed to the design of the iconic Sultan Abdul Samad Building and Cathedral of St. Mary),four distinctive galleries can be found within the two-storey National Textiles Museum.
The first section exhibits the origin of textiles from pre-historic times and development through trade, as well as the tools, materials and techniques of textile-making practised over years. Situated on the ground floor, displays include the hands-on processes of calendaring and gilding, gold thread embroidery, knitting, beading, and batik-painting. Traditional apparels such as embroidered shawls, Iban ceremonial cloth, songket (hand-woven silk with intricate gold or silver thread patterns, headgear, and beaded shoes are also displayed in this gallery.
True to its name, Pelangi Gallery is a colourful display of batik (fabric imprinted with patterns through the application of wax and dye) in Malaysia, housing extensive textile designs from the Chinese, Baba and Nyonya communities, as well as examples of ethnic Sarawakian and Sabahan prints.
This gallery highlights the predominant motif in the making of Malay songket called teluk berantai (interlocking bays), which is made up of a scattering of individual flower designs that’s stitched together into beautiful geometric patterns. Located on the top floor of the National Textile Museum, guests can also view collections of Malay and Indian textiles, gold thread embroidery, and various Malay heritage costumes.
The final gallery is a glittering display of jewellery and accessories that are made with diamond, gold, silver, copper, beads, and even plants. Showcasing the expertise of Malaysia’s various ethnic groups, exhibits include chastity belts, headdresses, hair pins, pendants, brooches, beaded shoes, bracelets, anklets, pemeleh (dangling earrings), cucuk sanggul (hairpin), rings, weapons, necklaces. There’s also a display of mannequins adorning traditional attire from the indigenous Iban, Murut, Mah Meri communities in Sabah and Sarawak.
A great place to learn about Malaysia’s rich history and diverse textiles, admission to the National Textiles Museum is free of charge. The best way to get to the National Textile Museum is via LRT – alight at the Masjid Jamek stop and the museum is a mere eight-minute walk away. Alternatively, there are plenty of tours in KL that charter visitors to the Independence Square so make sure you don’t miss the chance to visit!
Other attractions nearby National Textile Museum