Best Museums in Penang That Are Totally Worth the Visit

12 Museums to Visit in Penang, From Traditional to Quirky Ones!

The best way to start your museum-hopping adventure in Penang.

When we talk about Penang, the first thing that comes to mind is most probably mouth-watering hawker food, beautiful beaches, or stunning street art. But a true Penangite and those who have set foot on the state would know there is more to the Pearl of the Orient than we’ve just listed. One of the must-adds to your bucket list is none other than the awesome museums in Penang! 

You might be familiar with the mention of the Ghost Museum or the famous 3D Museum that attracts travelgrammers worldwide. But you might have yet to hear of some of the most underrated archives that boast traditional artefacts and rare gems you can only find in the state! So, read on to learn more about the 12 must-visit museums in Penang that deserve everyone’s attention.

Also read: 17 Airbnbs in Penang Where You Can Live Like a Local

Best museums in Penang to bookmark for your next visit

1. Pinang Peranakan Mansion

This iconic pastel green building is the Pinang Peranakan Mansion in George Town. The fascinating museum house features a glimpse of the opulent lifestyle of local Peranakans from the past. Heads up — you’ll be greeted with a Straits Eclectic-style interior featuring a mix of Chinese and European furnishings as soon as you enter. And as you explore further, you’ll find over 1,000 pieces of antiques and collectables spread across the mansion’s halls and rooms!

A little insight before you visit this Peranakan museum in Penang: The Peranakans, known as Baba and Nyonyas by the locals, were a group of acculturated Chinese, mainly living in the Straits Settlements (Penang, Malacca, and Singapore) of Tanah Melayu. As time went by, they developed a distinctive way of life by assimilating some of the local Malays and later the colonial British that are still evident today, especially through their unique traditional clothes, cuisines, and languages.

Address: 29, Church St, George Town, 10200 George Town, Penang

2. P. Ramlee Birthplace House Museum

Over 90 years ago, a legend was born in this exact wooden house, now known as the P. Ramlee Birthplace House Museum. If you’re a fan of this Malaysian prolific actor, director, singer, and composer, this hidden gem is for you. Look forward to a sense of nostalgia that will bring you back to the late 1920s as you browse through P. Ramlee’s personal collection: his old violin, favourite shirts, old movie posters, and typewriter, to name a few. 

Outside this tranquil abode, you’ll find the maestro’s beloved bicycle. It is said that P. Ramlee liked to play with its brakes to produce certain melodies as he sang to his favourite tunes. Ah, talk about the simpler times when the littlest thing could make you happy. Definitely one of the best museums in Penang to add to your itinerary!

Address: Lot 2180, Jalan P. Ramlee, Taman P. Ramlee, 10460 George Town, Pulau Pinang

3.  Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi Clan House and Museum

Stood majestically on the granite-paved floor of Cannon Square is the Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi Clan House and Museum. This largest Hokkien clan house in Malaysia was completed in 1903 and restored in 2001. The grand temple that symbolises good luck and prosperity is also said to be a mark of the dominant presence of the Chinese community in the state of Penang. 

Here, you’ll get to witness an authentic historical setting from the late 19th century, thanks to the well-preserved association building, traditional theatre, and the original rowhouses of the clan members. Inside the building are 36 statues of divine guardians and massive lanterns that bathe the intricate interior in an orange glow. Talk about yet another must-see Penang museum with an ancient charm!

Address: 18, Cannon Square, George Town, 10450 George Town, Pulau Pinang

4. Penang War Museum

The Penang War Museum is the place to go if you want to travel back in time to World War II during the Japanese occupation of Tanah Malaya. This hidden relic atop Batu Maung Hill was once a British military fortress built to defend the Straits of Malacca from Japanese attack. In this wartime heritage site, expect an eye-opening tour around an actual cannon-firing bay, anti-aircraft firing pits, soldiers’ sleeping quarters, lockup, and more — all that have stood the test of time since 1942.

Make sure to wander the underground tunnels and a room with walls riddled with bullet holes that will surely send some shivers down your spine. Some graphics during wartime will also greet you along the route. So, if you’re up for a unique experience learning about Penang’s storied past during the pre-independent era, now’s your chance!

Address: Penang War Museum, Jalan Batu Maung, 11960 Batu Maung, Pulau Pinang

5. Straits and Oriental Museum

The Straits and Oriental Museum is the first private archive in Penang that displays over 250 collections of ceramics and porcelains from various dynasties and ancient shipwrecks. These remarkable finds existed during the Song, Qing, and Ming eras and spread across the museum’s three halls. 

Here, you’ll be able to see the evolution of ceramics to porcelain and how the craftsmanship improved over time. One of the popular exhibits is the blue-and-white Kraak dishes that received a high demand in the West. Another interesting display is the Cizhou jars painted in vibrant green and yellow hues.  

Psst —when you’re done exploring, be sure to drop by the St. Joseph’s Chapel:  a serene heritage site with magnificent carvings on the second floor! All the more reasons to add the Straits and Oriental Museum to your list of must-visit museums in Penang. 

Address: 163C-3-1 St. Jo’s Gurney Paragon Mall 10250, Persiaran Gurney, 10250 George Town, Pulau Pinang

6. Glass Museum Penang

Any art lover and travelgrammer would love going to Glass Museum Penang. It is Malaysia’s first-ever glass museum and houses the longest batik motif glass painting in the country. Entering this colourful archive is like stepping into another dimension, especially when you encounter a passageway with geometrical mirrors that display an endless reflection of you. 

Along the way, you’ll find plentiful decorations crafted from recycled glass pieces, each with its distinctive style and painting. Did we mention you can take part in their immersive glass painting workshop? Yup, you can create your own glass-painted craft and bring it home as proof that you’ve been to this glassy archive certified under the Malaysian Book of Records!

Address: 6, Jalan Burma, George Town, 10050 George Town, Pulau Pinang

7. Meowseum of Cat Art & Craft

Calling all cat lovers! Your next visit to Penang will be worthwhile when you embark on a meow-gnificent journey at the quirky Meowseum of Cat Art & Craft. The uniquely themed archive is dedicated to displaying feline-themed artworks and collectables that will melt your heart with their charm and adorableness. 

Expect a wide collection of kitty figurines — from miniature sculptures to human-sized statues — to welcome you across the museum. Also, take this chance to fully immerse yourself in the eccentric cat-themed paintings hung on the walls, which the owner, Mr. Shin Yew Cheong, took ten years to collect. 

Afterwards, spend some time at the museum’s reading lounge. Here, you can browse through kitty literature with a complimentary catnip tea as the cherry on top. Talk about a unique Penang museum we didn’t know we needed!

Address: Business Address, No 47, Lebuh Melayu, George Town, 10100 George Town, Penang

8. Batik Painting Museum Penang

You might know Armenian Street for its colourful street art, but residing among its shophouses is Batik Painting Museum Penang. This art-filled archive is a three-storey building featuring a dazzling selection of over 90 batik paintings mainly from pioneer local artists. 

Though most of the batik artists were born between the 30s and 50s, the beauty of their masterpieces lives on to this day. Some of the worth mentioning pieces include Siesta by Koay Soo Kau and George Town Heritage City by Chuah Siew Teng. Both recorded the everyday life of Penangites during the period. 

And while you’re there, don’t miss the chance to buy some batik artworks at the entrance of the shop. Undoubtedly one of the worth-visiting museums in Penang to add to your bucket list!

Address: 19, Lbh Armenian, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang

Also read: 12 Cool Designs These SEA Countries Have Done With Batik

9. Asia Camera Museum

Here’s something for avid photographers worldwide: Asia Camera Museum. Yup, the museum really lives up to its name as it features more than 1,000 cameras and some never-seen-before photographic accessories. You’ll get to witness the vast collection of vintage cameras from Germany, Sweden, the United States, and Japan

As you explore deeper, you’ll find glass negative and authentic retro photo editors from the old days. The highlight of this museum is its Magic Lantern projector from the 1900s and a silent movie projector radiated by oil lamps and gear. So, be sure to get your camera ready, as this archive houses some of the must-see antiques you can’t find anywhere else!

Address: 1st Floor, 71, Lbh Armenian, George Town, 10200 George Town, Penang

10. Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (The Blue Mansion)

Your Penang museum hopping is incomplete without visiting the award-winning, blue-themed Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion on Lebuh Leith, George Town. Constructed in the late 19th century, this mansion from Crazy Rich Asians’ mahjong scene now serves as an 18-room boutique hotel. 

Though it’s not formally acknowledged as a museum, the place actively runs tours for visitors on a daily basis. The eclectic interior design comprising Asian and Western influences contributes to the mansion being called the “most atmospheric Chinese hotel that isn’t in China.” If all these reasons would not convince you to visit The Blue Mansion, we don’t know what would. 

Address: 14, Lebuh Leith, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang

Also read: 13 Hollywood Movies That Perfectly Capture the Beauty of Asia

11. Penang Indian Heritage Museum

One of the unmissable cultural museums in Penang is none other than the Penang Indian Heritage Museum. The museum puts a spotlight on the rich heritage of the local Indian community and has been running since 2018. 

Be prepared to be taken to the 1920s Malaya as you will encounter an array of ancient tools, including kitchenware, furniture, toys, and even bus tickets from the said era! You will also come across various portraits depicting the struggles of the olden Indian community who journeyed all the way to Tanah Malaya to build a new life for themselves. 

FYI, this archive is the first of its kind in the country and is a must-see, especially for all history and cultural buffs out there!

Address: 225, 221, Jalan Macalister, George Town, 10450 George Town, Penang

12. Penang Toy Museum

Penang Toy Museum is another quirky collection of exhibitions that no avid collector should sleep on. It has been listed twice in the Malaysia Book of Records for being one of the largest toy museums in the country. The place houses iconic life-sized figures of Hollywood’s blockbuster movie characters, heroes, and villains from famous comics and TV series. 

The smaller-in-size collectables include Barbie dolls, Garfield miniatures, Disney figurines, and more. BTW, all of these items are original copyright-licensed toys. So, be sure to take a lot of pictures with your favourite figures and collectables every chance you get when you visit this toy museum in Penang.

Address: Jalan Teluk Bahang, Teluk Bahang, 11050 George Town, Pulau Pinang

Also read: Penang vs Langkawi: Which Island Destination in Malaysia Is for You?

And that wraps up our list of the best Penang museums to bookmark for your next trip! Which one of these is your favourite? Whatever your answer is, we guarantee you will have a good time exploring all the antiques and masterpieces from these underrated gems!

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Featured image credit: Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion | Official Facebook Page

About Author

Izzati Haron
Izzati Haron

Izzati is an author to two poem anthologies, a slam poet wannabe, and a full-time nanny to her kitties. She loves dreaming about traveling the world just like most protagonists in the movies, but more often than not, her bank account only permits her to travel to her backyard.