The Ranee Museum, located at the Old Court House building in the old part of Kuching city, can easily be spotted by anyone keen to get a glimpse at Sarawak’s pre-independence history.
The museum, opened in late September, was set up by Brooke Heritage Trust co-founder Jason Brooke, a direct descendant of Charles Brooke, the second Rajah of Sarawak, and bears the tale of Sarawak’s historic and cultural heritage.
It features a unique collection of artefacts on the extraordinary life, legend and legacy of Margaret de Windt, who married Charles Brooke in 1869.
To the local people, she was simply “the Ranee” or “Mem Ranee”, the first queen of the Rajah of Sarawak.
James Brooke, the previous (and first) Rajah of Sarawak was unmarried.
Besides displaying Ranee Margaret’s collection of Sarawak keringkam (embroidered head coverings), songket, kebarung and other crafts of ancient textile arts, visitors to the museum can follow Margaret on a journey that defined her sense of purpose and identity in Sarawak then.
Ranee Museum gallery manager Liza Sideni said most of the pictures and items displayed in the gallery belonged to Ranee Margaret before they were passed on to her family members for generations.
“Some of the items in this gallery were brought by Jason (whose great-grandfather Bertram Brooke was the Tuan Muda of Sarawak) from London before being documented and exhibited in the museum,” she revealed.
Although the museum opened only recently, Liza said it has received many visitors from within and outside the country.
Australian Jeffery McCarthy who visited the museum said the gallery gave him an insight into Ranee Margaret’s life because she was “an inspirational woman, one of Kuching’s treasures”.
“An eye opener with great history, I definitely learned something new, and I would love to learn more about Sarawak and its people,” he said.
Meanwhile, a local visitor Josephine Angkung said the museum provided such a wonderful tale of a Queen that is not included in history books.
“An insight into the inspiring Ranee who was part of Sarawak’s history is beautifully displayed. I was able to gain a lot of new information about her,” she added. – Bernama