The Royal Selangor Visitor Centre comprises three main sections; the Gallery, Factory Tour and Retail Store.
The journey begins as one ascends the travelator through the inspired Mengkuang wall and into the newly refurbished Gallery, a collection of interactive and educational exhibits. Origins takes you back more than a hundred years to the arrival of Royal Selangor’s founder, Yong Koon and the company’s inextricable link to the history of Malaysia. The Museum features Yong Koon’s original pewtersmithing tools, his personal effects and years and years of history, retelling the glorious days of the tin mining industry in Malaysia, a time when Malaysia was the largest contributor, supplying 55% of the world’s tin by the end of the 19th century.
From the Museum, enter the world of pewter through sight, touch and sound. Large chimes and bells can be struck in the Chamber of Chimes, demonstrating the difference between the resonant sound of cast pewter and that of similar metallic and organic material. You can also have fun composing tunes while experimenting with sounds produced by a row of pewter vases of varying lengths. In the Hall of Frames, visitors pass through a hall decked with an impressive collection of past and present Royal Selangor photo frames, where you can touch, feel and appreciate the subtle warmth and flexibility of the alloy.
Following the Gallery, the Factory Tour brings visitors directly into Royal Selangor’s manufacturing heart, allowing visitors to get a first-hand view of, and even participate in, Royal Selangor’s pewter crafting process in a comfortable and safe environment. The Factory Tour also includes insights into the demanding craft of fine jewellery by Selberan, a Royal Selangor company. Visitors with a little more time on their hands may not want to miss out on making their own pewter product by taking part in an experiential workshop at the Visitor Centre. For a nominal fee, visitors may enrol in Royal Selangor’s School of Hard Knocks pewtersmithing workshop where in a fun half-hour session; participants will learn to create their very own pewter dish, using traditional tools similar to those used by pewtersmiths more than a hundred years ago. Visitors may also like to create their own pewter personal accessory at The Foundry. In just an hour, an instructor will guide participants through the fundamental processes of casting, polishing and decorating to create their own pewter pendant. Participants have the choice of casting items from existing moulds or creating something freehand.
In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the establishment of Royal Selangor’s first Visitor Centre, a limited edition range featuring replicas of the Melon Teapot are given three coloured finishes to represent Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Singapore; three cities where Royal Selangor Visitor Centres can be found. Black represents the urbanised lifestyle of Kuala Lumpur, while blue captures the vibrant city of Penang and pink personifies the harmony and beauty of Singapore. The original was made in the 1890s by Yong Koon, the founder of Royal Selangor; and is currently on display at the Visitor Centre’s pewter museum.
Executive director of Royal Selangor Marketing, Chen Tien Yue, says, “The Visitor Centre has grown in popularity over the last 10 years, reaching a monthly average of 30,000 visitors in 2013. Celebrity visitors have included Martha Stewart, Mel Gibson and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde.” He adds, “For this 10th anniversary celebration, we have put together some family packages that include 25% off bookings for a group of four, combining either of the School of Hard Knocks or The Foundry workshops with delicious meals at The Café.”
By Ong Chin Huat