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Made in Penang Interactive Museum, Weld Quay, George Town, Penang

The Behn Meyer Building at Weld Quay, George Town, now houses the Made in Penang Interactive Museum.

The Behn Meyer Building is one of the colonial buildings that line Weld Quay in the heart of George Town's UNESCO World Heritage Site. Completed in the late 1890s, the building once housed the Penang branch of what is today Behn Meyer & Co., and is now the site of the Made in Penang Interactive Museum.

History

It was reported that this building was built in the 1890s by Lim Choo Guan, also known as Puah Hin Leong, who ran the Khie Heng Bee Rice & Oil Mills. His family and descendents continued to own this building until 1979 when it was finally sold off.

Made-in-Penang Interactive Museum, George Town, Penang

Granite pathway through the Behn Meyer Building. It now serves as the entrance of the Made in Penang Interactive Museum, with a handful of interesting wall art lining the pathway.

By the time the building was completed in the late 1890s, Behn Meyer, a Singapore-based mercantile company, had been operating its Penang branch for a few years. Established in Singapore in 1840 by ethnic Germans, Theodor August Behn and Valentin Lorenz Meyer, Behn Meyer was one of the numerous Singapore-based European trading firms to open a branch in George Town in the late 19th. century, at a time when the Port of Penang was booming. Behn Meyer's Penang branch was opened at Beach Street in 1891, and upon the completion of this building, relocated into it.

As with many buildings of that era, the Behn Meyer Building features a wide-arched entrance to its left. This allowed access to a row of warehouses behind this building; the path that passes under the arch is paved with granite.

Behn Meyer eventually relocated its headquarters from Singapore to Hamburg, Germany. At the same time, the firm expanded tremendously; today, it has operations in 15 countries worldwide, including Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.

The company is also well-known for its persistence in the face of adversity. As with all German businesses in Penang, Behn Meyer's assets were seized by the British authorities during World War 1. In 1922, Behn Meyer established a subsidiary, the Straits Java Trading Company, and returned into this building. Later, the Japanese invasion during the Second World War forced the company to close again. However, a year after the end of the War, the company, now renamed The East Asiatic Co. Ltd., reopened its businesses here in this building, as well as in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

Behn Meyer vacated this building in the 1970s; its Penang branch is currently located in Sungai Nibong outside George Town. The building was subsequently sold off in 1979. After that, it was used by a number of institutions, including the British Council (which has since moved to its present premises at Light Street).

Since 2013, the Benh Meyer Building has been converted into the Made in Penang Interactive Museum, which contains several 3D dioramas and interactive art depicting Penang's history, culture and modern lifestyles.

Opening Hours

Weekdays : 0900 hours - 1800 hours

Weekends : 0900 hours - 2000 hours

Entrance Fees

*All prices are quoted in Malaysian Ringgit (RM).

Malaysians :

  • Adult : RM 15
  • Children : RM 10

Foreigners :

  • Adult : RM 30

 Political Representation

Penang State Government

N.26 Padang Kota State Assemblyman : Chow Kon Yeow (Democratic Action Party)

Malaysian Federal Parliament

P.049 Tanjong Member of Parliament : Ng Wei Aik (Democratic Action Party)

References 

  1. Langdon, M. A Guide to George Town's Historic Commercial and Civic Precints. Penang : George Town World Heritage Incorporated.
  2. http://www.penang-traveltips.com/behn-meyer.htm
  3. http://www.behnmeyer.com/default.aspx
  4. http://www.madeinpenang.my/v1/
  5. http://www.mypenang.gov.my/itemfull-6828-20_off_at_made_in_penang_interactive_museum.pgt

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