I was bored over the weekend, so I thought of dropping by KL to explore Muzium Negara (the National Museum). Unlike the US or the UK, Malaysian museums aren’t big on interactivity – the exhibits are static and haven’t changed in years. I can see how people see them as dull, drab places compared to glitzy, air-conditioned shopping malls.

Still, it’s an interesting place to visit once in awhile and a welcome change from the mall-culture we’ve gotten so used to. Not to mention cheap – entry is only RM3 for Malaysians.

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You don’t even have to pay for the outdoor exhibits. Apart from a large steam locomotive replica at the front, visitors can find old train cars, like this one from Penang Hill..

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And the very first Proton Saga which came out in 1985. My dad had one of these, in red.

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A carved hornbill (?) ship masthead.

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The museum is currently having a temporary show, the Poison and Venom Exhibition, until October 31. Located next to the main building, entrance is free.

Upon entering, visitors were greeted by a wall of text. And I mean, literally, a wall of text of buntings and banners. It was like the curators wanted to cram as much info as possible into the small space, resulting in tiny text that you had to squint to read.

I learnt something new though – did you know that poisonous and venomous animals/plants/etc are different?

Venomous organisms inject toxins directly into their victims (snakes, wasps, bees), whereas poisonous organisms do not but are harmful when touched/eaten (some plants, frogs, etc).

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I didn’t know wtf this was until I had stared at it for a full minute. Turns out it was a giant octopus attempting to smother(?) a ship. The exhibit looked tacky, but I can imagine that the museum doesn’t get much of a budget. Malaysians aren’t exactly known for our appreciation for culture and history. I mean, just look at the museum’s HTML-ish website that still runs on Javascript and Flash. I bet it has never seen an upgrade since 2002 or something. Still, a good effort by the museum, working with what little resources they could glean.

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An entire wall was dedicated to explaining venomous and poisonous organisms according to the Al-Quran.

And then there was a sculpted model of Medusa, the mythical greek Monster who was said to be a beautiful woman once until she incurred the wrath of the Gods and was turned into a snake-like half creature with serpents for hair. Mannequin on the left (with very shapely, womanly legs, for some reason) represents a man who was turned to stone after looking at Medusa’s hideous form.

I was excited to see the glass cases behind.. but it turns out they were just static displays with fake snakes. lulz

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I was feeling slightly disappointed, but the exhibit got more interesting as we walked further in. (Above) A realistic (and cute looking) model of a monitor lizard (Biawak Air). I’ve seen these buggers running around on the road or swimming in small ponds in parks. Didn’t know they had venom. @_@ Did I mention I’m afraid of reptiles (except snakes)?

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What’s a venom/poison exhibition without some giant spiders ?

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I’m glad I’ve never encountered ones as large as these.

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Some body parts, to make it interesting.  We were trying to figure out if they were real preserved specimens, because some of them had this old, rubbery texture, like it had been soaked in formaldehyde for a long time.

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*stares intently*

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A classroom setting for the kids.

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Another section housing preserved snakes in bottles and jars.. which reminded me of snake/lizard wine souvenirs I saw while travelling in Vietnam. They’re supposed to be good for libido. Not that I’d care to try any..

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Small, live animals like frogs and fish were also on display. The bright colours on this frog warn predators that eating it is not gonna be pleasant.

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Stingrays might look harmless, but are lethal due to their venomous tail stingers.

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Mini aquarium area with actual fish and aquatic life

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Spot the stone fish.

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A type of fish that still retains its primitive evolutionary-looking legs. It’s like a fish with trousers.

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The Poison and Venom Exhibition started off boring, but kept its ‘gems’ to the end. Pretty good for a free exhibit, and a nice way to spend the afternoon especially with family.

Open daily from 9am – 6pm (until Oct 31).

Muzium Negara 

Jalan Damansara, 50566 Wilayah Persekutuan,

Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur,

Malaysia
+60 3-2267 1111