Director of Sabah Museum, Joanna Kitingan, said the programme dubbed "Crafts Exotica" is being held simultaneously in four locations, namely Sabah Museum Heritage Village Complex (Kota Kinabalu), Agnes Keith House (Sandakan), Agop Batu Tulug Museum (Kinabatangan) and Keningau Heritage Museum. The programme, she said, started on July 1 and is expected to end on July 26.
"Various activities have been lined up and among these are handicraft shows such as making of textiles, costumes and embroidery, traditional games competition and display, activities with school children and lucky visitors," she said.
According to her, the programme was supposed to be held in the month of May but it was changed to July.
She said the objectives of the Crafts Exotica are to promote ethnic handicrafts and this year it is to promote the original costumes of the ethnic groups.
Women, she said, basically wove the costumes in the past but that the availability of materials at present has basically influenced the pattern.
Kitingan said that not many of the ethnic groups maintain the traditional method of producing the costumes except for the Rungus and Dusun Tindal.
"But the Tambunan women seemed keen to revive their weaving tradition," she said. She described the Crafts Exotica as a living heritage where participants display their weaving skills and playing of traditional games.
"The visitors are also invited in our hands-on programme and to try on the costumes," she said.
On July 18, she said, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan will be officiating at the new building at Keningau Heritage Museum, which is a project under the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC).
The new building, she said, is actually an extension of the old building.
She said the old building could no longer accommodate the temporary exhibition and hence the extension.
Because of the building's historical value, Kitingan said the museum decided to preserve it.
"We want it to be a living museum where people will have a sense of belonging or a part of their heritage," she said.
She said it would remind them of history and what it means to them.
She hoped the programme would encourage the people to visit the museums and at the same time donate personal items of historical value such as old pictures.
The new building at Keningau Heritage Museum, Kitingan said, is about 2,400 square feet.
"It's like a multipurpose hall but we will put up a variety of exhibitions," she said.
According to her, the Keningau Heritage Museum was used by the Japanese during World War II and by the North Borneo Chartered Company until the Independence of Sabah in 1963.
In the following years, it was used as resthouse for the VIPs and foreign visitors.
In 1995, the building was given to Keningau Heritage Museum. Kitingan said the State Museums recorded 10,800 visitors last year.
"Up to June this year, a total of 5,589 have visited the museums," she said.