KUALA LUMPUR: Museums in Malaysia suffered a drop in income as visitors declined by over 70 per cent in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said today.

She said exhibitions like "Miracle of Taxidermy Exhibition: The Eternal Life" by the Department of Museums Malaysia (JMM) were held to encourage the public to visit museums, in line with her ministry's slogan of 'Coming Back Stronger'.

"It is to ensure that the tourism and culture sector can recover and rise again after the COVID-19 pandemic. Museums are part of cultural tourism products capable of generating the country's economy.

"In 2019, JMM, through its 22 museums and exhibitions, managed to collect RM3.708 million in revenue, 42.5 per cent more than the previous year. The rise coincided with the number of visitors that year, which reached 2.782 million people," she said during the launch of the exhibition here.

Taxidermy is the art of preparing, stuffing, and mounting the skins of animals with lifelike effect for educational and research purposes.

Nancy said 126 selected fauna collections were exhibited, including specimens of mammals, reptiles, avians, amphibians, fish, Asian elephant skeletons and skulls, along with the main attraction, a 120-year-oldthe extinct Sumatran rhinoceros.

As Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister, she said she would continue to support the department's efforts to develop natural history museums ever since it was approved by the Cabinet in 1989 so that the country would not lag behind other regional neighbours like Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Nancy also launched the Artifact Donation Campaign by JMM to encourage the public to donate personal artifacts of historical, artistic, cultural and natural value to museums.

"Efforts to preserve and protect artifacts of great value to the country from the risk of loss, damage and destruction is in line with the three cores of the National Culture Policy (DAKEN), heritage conservation, development and expansion as well as empowerment of culture," she said.

Meanwhile, JMM director-general Datuk Kamarul Baharin A Kassim said that the department had received 1,120 donated artifacts from the public in the past five years and that the collection is scheduled to go on tour around Kelantan, Kedah and Perak next year.

He said donors qualified for tax exemption incentives based on the valuation by the JMM director-general as stipulated under the Income Tax Act 1967.