The Royal Museum at Jalan Istana is a must-visit attraction in Kuala Lumpur for those who have a penchant for the glamour and history associated with royal life, and are curious to see what the inside of a palace looks like. Formerly the National Palace of His and Her Majesty Yang Di-Pertuan Agong and Raja Permaisuri Agong, the Royal Museum allows access to some of the most private rooms and hallways of the palace, which was the official royal residence for more than 80 years. The old National Palace has also seen seven out of 13 coronations of the Agong before it was officially closed on November 2011.
The massive, Palladian style double-storey complex sits in an 11.34 hectare compound, and visitors are first greeted with the lush palace gardens while walking towards the main building. The palace is a no-shoes zone, so visitors are given a plastic bag to put their shoes in while exploring. You’ll also notice that the museum staff are all wearing black costumes (baju kurung and baju melayu) – the traditional formal attire for royal events such as the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong’s birthday celebrations and coronations.
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The ground level of the museum is taken over by several public areas such as a small audience hall, dining halls and never-seen-before rooms such as the cinema and the royal clinic. The royal clinic consists of a full dental facility and a consultation room, while the cinema is equipped with plush chairs and a curtained screen for intimate viewing. Note that while the museum is open for public viewing, the entrance to these rooms is blocked with a white metal barrier to maintain their pristine condition. A small LCD screen showcasing highlights of the room can also be found at the doorway for a more in-depth experience.
On the private upper floor of the museum you will find the royal bedrooms, His and Her Majesty’s offices and a reading room, among others. Adjacent to this is the royal apartment, which houses the more restricted areas of the palace, such as the powder room, a laundry room, His and Her Majesty’s bathrooms, prayer rooms and the royal bedroom. Each room is impressive and spacious, with intricate details such as gold-plated switches and heavy muted curtains adorning the interior. The whole museum is fully carpeted and air conditioned, and heavy with yellow accents, the official colour of the monarchy.
Photography is prohibited within the museum grounds and visitors can opt to roam the premises on their own, or with a guide. The museum guides are previous palace staff and possess extensive knowledge of the royal residence and the institution that is the Malaysian monarchy.
As the Royal Museum is along a busy highway in the city, it’s best to arrive by taxi if you’re planning a visit. Disembark from either one of the nearest Monorail stations, KL Sentral or Maharajalela, and the Royal Museum is approximately two kilometres away.
- Opening Hours: 09:00 – 17:00
- Address: Istana Negara, Jalan Istana, Kuala Lumpur
- Price Range: RM10 (adult); RM5 (children 6-12 years old)