By NG SU-ANN
PLANS are underway to convert the 96-year-old dilapidated building owned by the Penang Municipal Council into a museum and art gallery.
State Tourism, Culture, Arts and Heritage Committee chairman Danny Law Heng Kiang said that the council had agreed to rent out the building in 57, Macalister Road to the state for the purpose.
"It will take some time before we can do this as we have to amend the building's status for museum use.
"We hope to be able to open the new museum next year.
"It will cost between RM1mil and RM2mil to renovate the old building," he told a press conference after announcing the list of the Pe-nang Museum Board members for 2008 at Dewan Sri Pinang in George Town on Tuesday.
The heritage building was used as a maternity hospital from 1912 until World War II.
The Malaysian Red Crescent Society, Women's Centre for Change and Ex-Servicemen's Association had also once occupied the building.
When asked if the current museum would be shifted to the building upon the completion of its renovation, Law said they had not decided on this yet.
On another matter, he said his committee was applying to the state to increase the museum's an-nual allocation by about 50% from the current RM800,000.
"We need a bigger budget to aggressively advertise the mu-seum and acquire more artefacts and artworks.
"I want to revive the museum to its original glory. When local and foreign tourists visit it, they will be able to understand our history and culture," he said.
A trust fund would also be set up for the public and corporate sector to donate in cash and kind to the museum, he added.
The museum has an average of 200 visitors a day.
The board is chaired by Law and his members are Ong Kok Fooi, Datuk Jamaludin Hasan, Faiza Zulkifli, Datuk Supiah Md Yusof, Ibrahim Ismail, Datuk Marie Ritchie, Datuk Tang Hon Yin, Assoc Prof Datin Dr Mahani Musa, Hasnul Jamal Saidon, Nasser Malim, Assoc Prof Dr K. Anabalan, Lee Khai and Ma-riam Sulaiman.
Those who are knowledgeable in art are also urged to join the Penang Art Gallery committee which will be set up soon.
Those interested can call 04-261 3144.