Kelabit Community Museum Development

PPI member Dr Meghan Kelly is a senior lecturer at Deakin University in Visual Communication Design whose current interests investigate the intersection of design, museums and public pedagogies. One of the projects she has been involved in is the development of a community museum in the Kelabit Highlands of Borneo, Malaysia.

The Kelabit Community Museum Development, located in Bario, in the Highlands of Borneo, was initiated by the Kelabit people’s strong sense of need to preserve their cultural heritage. This understanding was bought on by an awakening of how their traditional tangible and intangible knowledge is being lost in the transformation of the Kelabit people by progress. The aim of the Kelabit Community Museum is to provide the opportunity for the Kelabits to assert their authority over the representation and commodification of heritage and associated knowledge of their region.

Since 2010, Deakin University has been in consultation with the Kelabit community to assist in the development of this project. A deepening understanding of the museum requirements has emerged through the consultation process. Currently under investigation are the curatorial requirements of the museum, governance and management of the resources, and creation of a strong infrastructure to support the development. In addition to this, there is a focus on the creation of concepts for the built environment and the visual communication design strategies to brand the museum and represent the projected identity of the community.