Bali is a befitting destination for art lovers. More specifically, Ubud is home to galleries of museums. Art museums entertain, inform and inspire visitors and when visiting Ubud Bali, you have endless options. This article lists some of the top art museums you should visit in Ubud.
Neka Art Museum
This is an amusing museum that opened its doors in 1982. It was founded by a Balinese teacher and collector known as Suteja Neka. Neka’s father was a popular painter and in this respect, Neka chose to give up his teaching ambition to follow in his father’s footsteps. This avid collector helped his father document and preserve his work and this is how he developed a fascination in collecting Balinese art. In 1966, Neka established a humble shop to sell art and over the years, he sold many pieces to foreign tourists. In 1975, Neka toured abroad and discovered collections of fine Balinese art displayed in foreigh museums. This is what propelled him to establish Neka Art Museum.
The museum is built to showcase traditional Balinese architecture. There are separate buildings where the pieces are displayed. Visitors walk around to discover traditional pieces as well as more modern Indonesian art. Also, there is work by foreigners who have been inspired or influenced by Bali. Among the fascinating collections are Affandi Paintings. Two Affandi pieces made in the mid 70s are displayed. This museum is built to meet international standards while showcasing culture in an organized manner. There are over 300 paintings to enjoy in this art museum; every year, new collections are brought on board. Located at Jalan Raya Sanggingan Campuhan in Ubud, this museum is free for children under the age of 12. The Neka Art Museum is a sure destination for the ultimate inspiration.
Agung Rai Museum of Art
Founded in 1996, Agung Rai Museum of Art has some of the best collections you will find. This museum was established by an ardent art dealer named Agung Rai. Selling Balinese artwork to tourists in the 70s, Rai made a fortune and was able to build one of the greatest private art collections in Indonesia. The museum is set in an exciting architecture with gallery buildings dedicated to showcase the collections. A 19th-century portarit by Javanese artist Raden Saleh is one of the highlights here. Saleh was born in 1807 and died in 1880. His famed portrait is of a Javanese nobleman and his better half. There are so many other artworks from iconic names such as Lempad, Sobrat, Deblog, Bagus and many more.
From classical and traditional pieces to more recent works, there is so much to explore in this museum. Also, works of expatriate artist Walter Spies are also featured. Spies who died in 1942 played a pivotal role in advancing artwork in Ubud through the painting school. This museum is also commonly known as ARMA as a short form. A lot of cultural events take place at the museum. For example, children come to practice Balinese dancing here. There are courses on culture that are offered as well. Dance performances also feature a lot and in this regard, this museum offers so much more. This establishment has a library, reading room, bookshop and many other resources. It is a place of rich culture, art and learning. This museum is run by the ARMA foundation. When in Ubud, this attraction is a must-see.
Museum Puri Lukisan
If you are looking to explore the oldest art museum in Bali, Puri Lukisan Museum is the place to be. It hosts collections that range from traditional Balinese paintings to wood carvings. Collections from pre independence to post independence era are available; giving this museum a unique appeal. All art styles are featured among them Batuan, Sanur, Ubud, Keliki schools and more. Construction of this museum started in January 1954. The museum was officially opened in 1956 and in 1972, there were additional wings constructed to host exhibitions. In 2011, a new gallery was added together with a meeting hall. A cafe was also established; expanding the offerings of the museum.
One of the most iconic collections at this museum are the works of Ida Bagus Nyana. This extraordinary wood sculptor had the ability to breath life into wood to create wonder. His most popular work is the sculpture of goddess Pertiwi in a detailing that featured her webbed legs and a spiraling serpent form. Born in 1912, this artist’s work and talent were evident. This talent was also visible in his son Tilem. By the time of Nyana’s death in 1985, he had managed to create timeless art captured in wood. Other top names and collections at this museum include the works of Gelgel, Lempad, Sobrat, Deblong and many more.
Setia Darma House of Masks and Puppets
This unique museum is highly colorful with a mission to preserve and to promote rich heritage items in Bali. It provides a cultural experience that is both entertaining and educational. It features collections not just from Bali, but from many parts of the world as well. Here, you will find over 5,700 puppets, more than 1,300 masks from Indonesia, Africa, China, Latin America and even Europe. This museum is located several kilometers south of Ubud at the serene village of Tegal Bingin in Sukawati. The unique museum was established by Agustinus Prayitno who was an artist and a curator. He decided on this location because it was a hub for expert mask makers, woodcarvers and sculptors.
The establishment is set in a Balinese and Javanese style courtyard with five wooden traditional pavilions that host the masks and puppets in various categories. The museum seats on 1.4 hectares of well manicured grounds and gardens in a tropical setting. Among other categories in the collections, there are shadow puppets with contemporary inclusions as well. A notable puppet is that of former US president Barack Obama. The pieces are also organized based on origin such as Hindu epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Also, pieces are organized by dates with some puppets from the 16th century and others dating back to the 18th century. An example of 18th century pieces are the Bunraku idols from Japan. The museum has many amenities including an amphitheater that can hold 500 people.
Blanco Renaissance Museum
Born in 1911 in Manila, Philippines, Don Antonio Blanco settled in Bali in 1952. This celebrated maestro found his new home in Ubud and the King of Ubud welcomed him with a piece of land where he would settle and create inspired art. Blanco built his retreat on a hilltop overlooking the lush landscape in Campuhan amidst the splendour of Ubud. Of Spanish descent, Blanco is one of the most celebrated artists to settle in Bali. Before his death in 1999, the Blanco Renaissance Museum was already being set up. It was a place to find beauty, art and inspiration and this museum hosts paintings, poetry, collages, lithographic artworks and more. His artistic passion for naked Balinese females was unmistaken and his studio become a museum to showcase his life and what he loved.
The Blanco museum is a private studio where visitors are given guided tours into the lavish studio. The courtyard has manicured gardens with a fine restaurant on sight named after Blanco’s wife. The main residence is a blend of Spanish and Balinese architecture with green lawns that greet visitors. Blanco’s son Mario is also an artist who followed in the footsteps of his father. The unofficial museum also showcases his work. In the vicinity is a gift shop and Blanco’s family temple; among other attractions. This location is a must-see for any person looking to uncover great art in a serene setting.