My visit to The Camera Museum in Georgetown was an unprecedented one. Walking down the streets and alleys of this world heritage site, my sisters and I came across a sign on the wall:
Camera Museum 100 meters
It was a detour from our original route, but the sign was intriguing. After a short walk, we came across one of Georgetown's famous street art pieces, of a girl balancing herself on a pair of windowframes. The Camera Museum is within that very same row of shoplots, a fresh facade amongst the older heritage lots.
The museum takes up an entire double storey shoplot, a narrow rectangle stretching to the back. The lower levels are free for viewing, consisting of a welcome area, the cashier counter, an art gallery, a gift shop and a cafe called Double Exposure. Each entry ticket comes with a Double Exposure discount voucher.
Meanwhile, the museum properly begins once you go up the stairs. Tickets for entry are expensive, but my sisters and I were keen to check it out. Adults pay RM20, students pay RM10 and children under 12 can go in for free - provided they are accompanied by an adult.
The Camera Museum boasts a collection of up to 1,000 vintage cameras, and the first hall is evidence of that. According to Yap, who is one of the staff here, it took around three years travelling the world to bring the collection to where it is now. Cameras of all shapes and sizes are arranged all around, from boxy old Kodak Brownies to giant accordion cameras. You can even get a hands on experience! A special table is prepared with an assortment of different cameras so guests can appreciate the antiques first-hand.
You can also find our first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman's personal camera collection on display! Other notable items include a photograph of an early selfie (dated in the 1920s to be exact) and the earliest way of capturing an image; tracing over a reflection with a pencil and paper.
Once you have taken a look at the various types of cameras, it's time to take an illustrated journey through time. Not only is this a history of the camera, but the timeline also displays a collection of some of the most impactful and historic photographs of our time. The explanations on each photograph are written in both English and Mandarin, for convenience.
Another main attraction is the range of specialty rooms, centered around a theme. For instance, the Spy Room displays a collection of tiny vintage spy cameras, some smaller than a matchbox. The Dark Room, is exactly that; an educational experience for the current generation of smartphone cameras and digital printing. The Pinhole Room gives you an idea of what it's like to be inside a camera, and there is also a room where you can see how hand-drawn portraits were made in the past with the help of an antique 'camera' (pictured above).
Hourly tours are available from 10 am to 6 pm daily, and last for about a half hour to 45 minutes. My sisters and I browsed through on our own. The museum finally ends at the very back of the building, with snapshots of Georgetown and her well-known street art adorning the wall. From there, a flight of stairs leads you down to the Double Exposure cafe, where you can grab a drink or bite to eat before leaving the museum.