What is heritage? Does it lie in the past?
If truth be told, we live in a society that will readily espouse modernity at the expense of history. Which is why Art House Gallery Museum of Ethnic Arts, which opened in January (of 2009) at the Central Market Annexe ( situated at the back of Central Market ), has an ambience that, not just tourists but Malaysians, will find venerable and otherworldly.
Like a cargo shipment that time forgot, the gallery museum houses an assortment of stunning artifacts from ethnic communities and cultures from the South East Asian and East Asian regions. All thanks to collector and curator Leonard Yiu.
The experience is a dizzying one.
Leonard’s attitude to the museum is decidedly quirky yet user-friendly. In the gallery, antique Tibetan furniture is displayed next to Miao tribe neckrings. Turn around and you can see Kenyah beaded baby carrying baskets from Sarawak in East Malaysia. Tribal necklaces and jewellery are aplenty too.
Meanwhile, traditional bronze and silver containers for storing areca nut and betel leaf can be admired alongside handcrafted Baba Nyonya hairpins and an assortment of keris daggers from the region. There are few labels to say what is what and which is which.
But what may at first seem to be a culturally disorienting experience soon becomes a brief walk through history with Leonard’s warm banter. Gladly answering any queries with the charm of a storyteller, Leonard will often personally guide visitors through the whole collection. Every piece has a story to tell.
The impressive permanent exhibition of wooden masks he collected from Borneo is a sight to behold. Even more stunning are the “sky burial” coffins and spooky sculpted grave makers from Sarawak. Not to mention the carved ceremonial hornbill skulls and a codex written in the lost script of the Batak in Sumatra.
Aside from its remarkable collection, what makes a visit to this mini-museum even better is that, yes, you can “touch” most of the exhibits! And a selection of the items are for sale too, if a piece happens to catch your eye.
Located on the second floor of Central Market Annexe, the gallery is open from 10:30am to 7:00pm daily. But the best time to pay a visit is when Leonard is in the gallery, during which he grants personalized tours. An entrance fee of RM 5 is charged.
Leonard also runs his art business, Art House Gallery, which is situated just next door. In here, you’ll find an array of talented local, China, Indonesian artists displaying a medley of oils, acrylics, watercolor, Chinese ink & brush paintings blending artfully into a very Asian feel. The combined space area of the 2 galleries is about 5000 sq.ft., housing more than 2000 antiques and 1000 paintings.
A veritable “ Aladdin’s Cave “ is an apt response by many visitors. Come and be amazed!
Address: Lot 3.02 & 3.03, Second Floor, Annexe Building, Central Market. No.10 Jalan Hang Kasturi, 50050 Kuala Lumpur
Facebook page: Art House Gallery Museum Of Ethnic Arts, Art House Gallery
Phone number /Whatsapp: +60-12 3886868
Email: [email protected]
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