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Penang's state-run museum includes exhibits on the history, customs and traditions of the island’s various ethnic groups, with photos, videos, documents, costumes, furniture and other well-labelled, engaging displays. Upstairs is the history gallery, with a collection of early-19th-century watercolours by Captain Robert Smith, an engineer with the East India Company, and prints showing landscapes of old Penang.

Some of the museum's temporary exhibitions are held at the Penang State Museum Board.