The Perak Museum in Taiping is the oldest museum in Peninsula Malaysia. It was established in 1883 by the British, and from this date henceforth the museum was built and initially used in 1886. However the museum expansion was constantly carried out in stages periodically until it was fully completed in 1903.
The construction of the Perak Museum was an initiative by Sir Hugh Low (the British Resident) who ordered Leonard Wray Junior, the Larut garden Superintendent to collect materials to be placed in a future museum which would be erected in Perak in 1883. After the establishment of this museum, Leonard Wray Junior was appointed as the first Curator of Perak Museum. At that point in time the Perak Museum was under the administration of the Federated Malay States Government.
Sir Hugh Low's initiatives to set up this museum were to collect materials that reflect the history and cultural heritage of the indigenous people of the Malay Peninsula at that time. The materials collected and displayed were pertaining to local ethnology and anthropology. During the period there were halls for Zoology, Herbarium, Pre-historic, Economics and Ethnology.
To date the oldest museum in the Malay Peninsula still remains strong, in displaying historical and cultural materials. It has four main exhibition halls, an office and a library. The halls are Balai Diraja, Balai Ilmu Kejadian, Balai Kebudayaan and Balai Orang Asli and the Ceramic Hall.
The ` development and construction of the Perak Museum began with construction of the main building in 1883, and this form lasted until 1886. The front and back verandas were added in 1889 followed by an additional space to the west wing in 1891. In 1900 the building was expanded to become a two-storey building to meet the space requirements for the increasing number of exhibition materials. In 1979 another addition was made in this Perak Museum, which entails the front hall, while the Perak history hall was built in May 1981. This gave a space to the Perak history exhibition especially in the history hall. To date there are over 5,000 materials in the Perak Museum including animal specimens, cultural materials of the Malays and Orang Asli, ceramics and others.
As one of the oldest museums, many collections are exhibited here. From 1889, this museum has already collected about approximately 127 animals, 5 animal skeletons, 637 birds, 117 types of fish and 15 reptiles, all frozen. The herbarium section consists of about 500 plants, and at the ethnology section houses about 412 items and 107 stone artefacts at the archaeological section.
The Perak Museum is still standing strong, storing and displaying cultural heritage of the Malayan residents as well as their environment for future generations to witness.