National Art Gallery
Malaysia’s National Art Gallery was established in 1958 after a campaign spearheaded by Tan Sri Mubin Sheppard and Frank Sullivan, who became the first administrator of the gallery. In 1998, with a need for additional galleries and storage, it was moved to its current location on Jalan Tun Razak. This modern building is one of the largest national galleries in South East Asia.
The National Art Gallery houses a large collection of more than 2,500 works of local and foreign art, as well as several temporary exhibitions. More than just a venue, the gallery is committed to restoring, preserving, documenting, promoting and improving art and artists in Malaysia. It regularly hosts art competitions, seminars and workshops for art practitioners and students as well as numerous art-related events for the general public.
The gallery is open from 10am – 6pm daily (closed on Friday from 12:45-2.45 pm). Guided tours are available. Admission is free.
Asian Arts Museum
Located on the campus of Malaysia’s oldest university, the University of Malaya, this museum aims to preserve and promote Asian arts and cultures. There are currently over 6,000 artefacts spanning 4,000 years of Asian history. Main collections include Malaysian, Indian, Chinese and South East Asian objects, including Tzu Chou and 9thcentury Khmer pottery.
The gallery is open from 9pm to 5pm Mon-Thurs with reduced opening hours on Fridays and Saturdays. Admission is free.
Contact: +603 7967 3805
Petronas Gallery, also known as Galeri Petronas, is located on the 3rd of floor of KLCC Shopping Centre. It is owned and funded by Petronas, Malaysia’s national oil & gas corporation. The primary aim of the gallery is to provide a venue for current local artists to gain exposure for their work. There is a well-stocked art resource centre, regular local and foreign resident artists, and annual art conference. Art classes are open to the public. The current special exhibition, Antara Budaya, features object d’art presented to Petronas by representatives of the various countries in which the company has worked.
Petronas Gallery is open 10am-8pm daily except Mondays. It is open on public holidays except the first week of Ramadan and the first day of Hari Raya. Admission is free.
Rimbun Dahan is a private property which has been developed for artists’ residencies and for some beautiful heritage houses that would otherwise have been lost had they not been moved here and restored. One is a century old kampong house from Parit, Perak, the other an Anglo-Malay bungalow from Penang. The compound covers over 14 acres and is planted with indigenous forest species. This is the only indigenous Malaysian species garden in the world. Rimbun Dahan is just a 40 minute drive from KL, a few kilometres north of Sungai Buloh on the Kuang road. Rimbun Dahan plays host to WWF Malaysia’s annual Art for Nature exhibition, featuring some of South East Asia’s best artists.
Rimbun Dahan is open to the public only during exhibitions, or by appointment.
The Annexe Gallery, located just behind Central Market, has had a big impact on the Malaysian arts scene in only the four years since it opened. This centre for contemporary arts provides spaces for exhibitions and shows of a diverse nature for both local and foreign artists. The eclectic programme of events is organised either by The Annexe or in collaboration with outside parties, ranging from fashion shows to performance art to talks to music and more. The centre has attracted a community of artists and art lovers which continues to grow and explore new ways to express itself.
Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia
Opened in 1998, the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (IAMM) has the region’s largest and finest collection of Islamic art and heritage. Located near the greenbelt of Kuala Lumpur’s Lake Garden opposite the National Mosque, the museum’s collection contains over 7,000 artefacts as well as an excellent Islamic arts library. Displays range from intricate jewellery to scale models of famous mosques throughout the world including the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca. There is an emphasis upon Asia, India, China and South East Asia in the collection but the 12 galleries here are set up according to themes rather than geographical location. Permanent galleries are based upon the following themes – Ceramics and Glassware, Arms and Armour, Textiles, Jewellery, Metalwork and Woodwork. The museum is a modern building with Islamic architectural detail and four striking turquoise domes on the top of the building. These Persian Safavidstyled domes were designed and the ornate tiles cut by Isfahan artisans. These domes were inspired by the Silk Road cities of Uzbekistan and the inverted dome on the inside of the museum is another significant feature. The museum’s opening hours are from 10am – 6pm, Mondays to Sundays, including public holidays.
Textile Museum, Sarawak
Sarawak offers one of Malaysia’s finest textile traditions with the woven cotton ikat produced by some of the state’s ethnic communities being intricate, collectable and forming an important part of their culture. The three-storey rectangular building itself is architecturally fascinating with its combination of English colonial and English Renaissance styles. Examples of local pua kumbu ikat are displayed alongside Malay kain songket. Open daily from 9am to 4.30pm and entry is free.
Textile Museum, Kuala Lumpur
The National Textiles Museum is located in The Sultan Abdul Samad Building on Merdeka Square, recognisable by its ochre and cream horizontal stripes. This strikingly striped heritage building is the perfect repository for the nation’s textile heritage. There are four exhibition galleries: Pohon Budi Gallery, focusing on the origins of fabric since prehistoric times and the evolution of fabric trade and techniques; Pelangi Gallery, showcasing selected heritage collections from Malaysia’s many ethnic groups; Teluk Berantai Gallery, which holds an extensive collection of Malay fabrics and costumes; and, Ratna Sari Gallery, exhibiting jewellery and accessories of Indian, Malay, Chinese and Orang Asli origins. Open daily from 9am to 5pm and entry is free.
Contact: www. jmm.gov.my/national-textiles-museum
Artists' Colony, Kuala Lumpur Craft Complex
Within the ground’s of Kuala Lumpur Craft Complex on Jalan Conlay, the artists’ colony allows visitors to watch traditional artists and craftspeople at work in a traditional village setting. Stroll by the wooden huts and observe pottery, batik and jar making, painting, and songket weaving. Visitors are also given the opportunity to try their hand at a traditional craft in one of the regular demonstrations. Open from 9am to 6pm daily.
Source: The Expat February 2012
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This article has been edited for ExpatGomalaysia.com