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Pekan, is an old town with numerous historical remains. Also known as the Royal Town,it was once the capital and administrative centre for the state of Pahang Darul Makmur.
The Sultan Abu Bakar Museum is a heritage building with a unique history of its own. This museum building was originally a two-storey wooden building built by the British in 1888, as the residence for the First British Resident of Pahang, J.P. Rodger. In 1898, with the shift of the capital of Pahang from Pekan to Kuala Lipis, this building was used as accommodation for British Residents who came to Pekan on official duties. In 1929, this timber building was replaced with a double-storey brick building which still exists till present day. During the Japanese occupation in Malaya this building was used as a headquarters for Japanese military officers.
In 1948, this building was occupied by HRH The Late Sultan Abu Bakar as a replacement for the Sri Terentang Palace. It was later known as the Kota Beram Palace and was the royal residence and venue for holding events and ceremonies. In 1954, due to limited space within the palace, the state government had built an additional building which was made into a hall known as the Balairung Seri.
In 1970, the Prime Minister Tun Haji Abdul Razak in a meeting with the residents of Pekan had proposed to set up a Pahang Museum, aimed at collecting and displaying historical and cultural artefacts of Pahang state. Consequently, in 1974, the Pahang state government had examined the need to set up this museum, and a Working Committee was established to renovate the Kota Beram Palace into the State Museum. This museum was later renamed the Sultan Abu Bakar Museum in honour of the palace that was once the royal residence of the sultan.
In 1975, an Enactment had been approved by the Pahang State Legal Council and was gazetted by the Government on 14 August 1975. Through this enactment the Pahang State Government had established a museum administrative body known as the Pahang State Museum Board (Lembaga Muzium Negeri Pahang) which was responsible towards for the administration of this museum. On 21 October 1976, HRH Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah, Sultan of Pahang had consented to grace the official opening of the Sultan Abu Bakar Museum. Since then the museum has continually been active in collecting and displaying the historical traces and relics of the past as well as the traditional culture of the state of Pahang.