5 Best Museums to Discovering Art and History
1. Agung Rai Museum of Art
Founded in 1996 by Agung Rai, a Balinese who is committed to preserving and developing Balinese art and culture, this museum is not just a place that has collected and preserved artworks but is also here to develop the art of painting, sculpture, dance, music and other cultural art forms. They provide the infrastructure for the surrounding neighbourhood to learn those artistic skills. Existing as more than just a museum, ARMA allows you to enjoy the special exhibitions, theatre performances, dances, music and painting classes, a bookshop, library and reading room, cultural workshops, conferences, seminars and training programs.
The painting collection at ARMA ranges from traditional to contemporary, including the classical Kamasan Collection on tree bark, masterpieces by Batuan artists of the 30s and 40s, and the only available works to be seen on the island from 19th century Javanese artist Raden Saleh and Syarif Bustaman. The displayed collection of foreign artists who made a contribution to the development of Balinese arts is also available inside the museum. ARMA is one of the best museums in Bali to see the chronological development of art in Bali, from traditional pieces, influences to contemporary forms. The most popular pieces are the works by Balinese masters I Gusti Nyoman Lempad, Ida Bagus Made, Anak Agung Gede Sobrat and I Gusti Made Deblog. This is not just a regular one of the museums in Bali , it is a walk through Bali’s art history.
2. Blanco Renaissance Museum
Enter the main building to see a massive marble hall lined with Blanco’s artworks in lavish and unusual frames. Many colorful nude portraits are displayed in this room, while towards the studio you’ll be able to see various collages with 60s-era paintings, paintbrushes and dried paint, usually in front of an artwork in progress.
Some of the art pieces might bring a smile to your face, while others will probably induce a slight cringe. There are pieces with snippets of porn magazines overlaid with soapboxes, sand and seashells.
A studio where Blanco used to paint and a gallery exhibiting Mario’s works can be found inside Blanco Renaissance Museum. You’ll also find a gift shop, café and the Blanco’s family temple within the premise. The café has a cozy Balinese atmosphere and serves European and Asian dishes.
The gallery’s provocative collection appeals mostly to adults and art lovers. If you’re visiting with children, they may enjoy the palatial gardens and courtyard, which have gorgeous parrots and exotic birds.
3. Neka Art Museum
Neka Art Museum is an art gallery and museum in Ubud, established in 1976 by Balinese art lover Wayan Suteja Neka. Inside the museum, you can admire a vast collection of paintings and sculptures that are displayed throughout 6 different buildings laid out in a Balinese garden compound.
The 6 buildings in traditional Balinese architecture house an expansive collection of paintings and sculptures, but one of the main exhibits at Neka Art Museum are the traditional Balinese keris daggers. The daggers are the personal collection of the museum’s founder, whose family hails from the Balinese Pande clan of smiths.
4. Museum of Bali
Located in Denpasar, this museum is definitely a heritage centre that depicts Balinese culture and history. Built in the early 30’s, Bali Museum pillars four main structures. In Tabanan complex, visitors can see musical instruments and theatrical masks whilst paintings and sculptures are on display in Karangasem complex. If you are into local textile industry and its history, you can see them in Buleleng complex and archaeological artifacts fan can opt to go straight to Timur complex. Bali Museum houses various Balinese looms and ancient calendars.
The collections stored in Bali Museum can be classified as a prehistoric object collection.
5. Museum Pasifika
Located in Nusa Dua, Museum Pasifika presents an Asia-Pacific melting pot of culture. Masterpieces from 200 artists from 25 countries, 350 paintings, and 250 historical objects are on display here.
Initiated by a small circle of French and Indonesian art lovers and antique collectors, Museum Pasifika houses hundreds of paintings. The Museum Pasifika collection is dominated by cultural and Balinese life themes. Here, one can find the works of Balinese painter Nyoman Gunarsa and Javanese artist Raden Saleh to name a few.