MATRADE Trade Museum is one of the less well known museums in Malaysia - it does not appear on Wikipedia’s list of Malaysian museums for example, nor on Google’s pictorial directory, nor Lonely Planet’s list or even on the Department of Museums website. Luckily, you have Malaysia Traveller to provide the information that others miss!
The Trade Museum is operated by MATRADE (Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation) and is located on the second floor of their imposing headquarters building in Kuala Lumpur.
The Trade Museum is located in the iconic Menara MATRADE building.
The museum comprises three zones:
Zone 1 (History)
The museum tells the story of the evolution of trade in South East Asia. It explains how the strategic location of the Malay Peninsular and the Straits of Malacca has attracted traders through the ages, particularly from India, Arabia, China, Burma and the Malay Archipelago.
Exhibits show the South East Asia trade routes, the various types of merchandise traded and the different types of ships which frequented Malaysia’s ports.
The importance of the spice trade is highlighted and visitors can see samples of cardamom, nutmeg and mace, cloves, cinnamon and pepper.
The development of money is mentioned, from barter trade, to metal coins and paper currency.
What was the exchange rate of crocodiles to turtles?
The people of Borneo sold forest products such as dammar (tree resin used to make varnish), birds nests, spices and logs in exchange for coins, glass beads and ceramics from China and elsewhere.
Wall displays cover the colonial era, starting with the acquisition of Malacca by the Portuguese, followed by the contributions to trade of the Dutch and British administrations. The growth and importance of the tin and rubber industries, supported by the spread of railways, are explained.
Zone 2 (Modern Malaysia)
This section showcases Malaysia’s economic successes since Independence, with the growth of the palm oil industry, development of domestic consumer product industries, the establishment of the local automotive industry, and expansion of textiles, apparel, electrical and electronic sectors.
Zone 3 (Information Centre)
This is a library of reference materials and resources.
Not a bad museum, particularly the historical aspects. Younger children might find it dull as most of exhibits are just wall displays with text and images.
Probably better to go when there is an interesting exhibition going on in MATRADE’s exhibition halls so you can kill two birds with one stone.
The museum is open Monday to Friday.
Level 2, Menara MATRADE,
Jalan Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah,
50480 Kuala Lumpur,
Tel : +603-6207 7700
Fax : +603 6203 7037
I have marked the exact location on the map on my Top KL Attractions page.
MATRADE has a large outdoor public car park. RM 5 per entry (May 2017 price).