Zaykabar Group’s U Khin Shwe to Open Private Museum

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 18 November 2016

RANGOON — U Khin Shwe, chairman of the Zaykabar Group of Companies, announced plans to open a private museum in Rangoon’s Mingaladon Township in which to showcase his collection of antiques, art and natural history artifacts.

Around three acres has been allocated for the project, which is awaiting approval for construction from the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) and is set to be completed in two years.

The museum will hold paintings from the time of King Thibaw—Burma’s last reigning monarch—Pyu-era pottery, stuffed primates from Upper Burma, and 40,000-50,000 other “rare items.”

“The government alone could not handle the maintenance of antiques, so private sector involvement is required right now. That’s why I’m collecting these old things to display in the museum,” U Khin Shwe told The Irrawaddy, highlighting how many historic items have already been sold to neighboring countries like Thailand.

Also in the collection are preserved turtles, sharks, a crocodile and now-extinct fish. Religious relics, including Buddha statues, will be on display as well. Until the museum opens, U Khin Shwe explained that he is storing the antiques in Zaykabar-owned buildings.

The museum structure was designed by a French architectural firm and will be constructed by a local company, ACE. U Khin Shwe said that the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture has already given its approval for the museum, and he is waiting for the YCDC to sign off on the plan.

The Mingaladon museum could be the biggest private museum in Asia, U Khin Shwe speculated. The biggest in Burma is the government-run National Museum in the capital, Naypyidaw.

A former Union Solidarity and Development Party parliamentarian in the previous military-backed government, U Khin Shwe was featured on the US’s Specially Designated Nationals list for more than ten years. He saw his name removed with the lifting of sanctions by the White House in October, a move deemed controversial by rights groups who criticize the lack of transparency in the business landscape and continued involvement in the economy by individuals and companies with military ties.