Aside from being a haven for analogue lovers, this quaint corner in the heart of Penang, Malaysia’s tourist district is the place to go to learn about the many interesting milestones throughout photography’s colorful history. And of course, to be surrounded by many analogue cameras!
Photography enthusiasts and camera collectors visiting the island of Penang in Malaysia have been flocking to a quaint corner in George Town simply called The Camera Museum. Of course, I didn’t pass up the opportunity during my time in the beautiful city. In fact, it was one of the highlights of my trip this year!
This special museum — the first of its kind in the country and in Southeast Asia — was one of the things I made sure to include in my itinerary as soon as I heard about it a few months before my trip. Imagine my delight when I finally found it along Muntri Street, the big folding camera model by the entrance welcoming and beckoning for me to come in!
After paying for my ticket, I was ushered upstairs into the first area of the museum. When I parted the heavy black curtain aside, I was welcomed by a jaw-dropping sight:
Yes, a room-full of beautiful cameras from virtually every era in photography history! I couldn’t contain my excitement and felt like I was in analogue heaven! Classic folders, gorgeous Rolleiflex TLRs, timeless SLRs, elegant Leicas, legendary Kodaks, lovely medium format cameras, impressive Polaroid cameras, and even eye-popping large format cameras fitted with original Petzval lenses — all of them in one room for me to ogle at with wonder. Of course, I stayed for quite a long time in this room!
One of my favorite pieces in the exhibit is a French Le Minimus stereoscope viewer that you can peer into to see an example of early 3D imaging. It was my first time to see and experience such a modern concept at work in an ancient equipment! You can just imagine kids and teenagers getting one of the biggest surprises in their lives — realizing that 3D is not new after all!
The museum also has its own Obscura Room, where visitors are treated to the camera obscura experience. On one side of the room is a well-lit still-life set-up facing the wooden camera obscuras in the other side (darkened so you can see the images taken in by the cameras). Again, another experience to remember for the young ones! Too bad I forgot to take a photo (in my excitement)!
Another area that drew gasps of wonder from me was the full Darkroom setup — complete with an enlargers, bath trays, boxes of photographic paper in various sizes, and developed images clipped on a clothesline — made even more realistic by the red safelight that bathed the room. I also stayed for a long time in this room, and I tried to take in as much as I could since I want to have my own darkroom someday.
After your thrilling time around the museum, you can proceed to the souvenir shop for some camera-themed trinkets, shirts, and bags. Or, you can head to the aptly named Double Exposure cafe to grab a cup of coffee and cakes while writing on your journal and flipping through the books on the cafe’s library — which was what I did!
The Camera Museum
49 Lebuh Muntri
10200 Penang George Town