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Ever since the King of Ubud welcomed prominent Western artists and asked them to impart skill and knowledge to local talents in the 1930s, Ubud has continued to thrive as a center of art and culture. Those keen to embrace the artistic side of this charming district should see these best museums and galleries.
This museum is at the heart of an integrated complex dedicated to art and culture, built by Balinese entrepreneur and art collector, Anak Agung Gde Rai. The Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA) houses works from the most influential painters in 1930s Ubud, as well as from local contemporary artists and everything in between. More than preserving the delicate and impressive collection, this establishment also has its eyes on the future of Balinese art and culture, shown by its programs and effort to help more people learn about art and appreciate other forms of traditional performance. Among the nationally and internationally acclaimed artists you can find in this museum are Walter Spies, Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur, Raden Saleh, and Affandi.
Don Antonio Blanco is one of the many influential artists who fell in love with the charming village of Ubud and chose to live and be inspired by its fascinating culture, people, and nature. Luckily for us, many of the maestro’s works are now showcased in his very own mansion, which in itself is an impressive architectural landmark that graciously blends classic European with traditional Balinese design, perched on a gorgeous hilltop in Ubud. Expect to see a lot of erotica, scenes from traditional Balinese life, and illustrated poetry from the renowned artist.
The Blanco Renaissance Museum, Sayan, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia, +62 361 975502
Dedicated towards documenting and presenting the history and development of art in Bali, Neka Art Museum showcases monumental artworks spanning from the 19th century to the present. The collection of more than 300 works are organised into different pavilions and exhibition halls, thoughtfully curated to convey an elaborate picture of Bali’s art scene in different eras. From the legendary Affandi’s paintings to photographs from the lens of Robert Koke in the 1930s or even a collection of traditional daggers, art enthusiasts can expect a rounded and insightful experience in this museum.
Neka Art Museum, Kedewatan, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia, +62 361 975074
Masks and puppets are two important cultural artifacts for many communities, including the Balinese. Therefore, this museum has a significant role in preserving and showcasing one of the culture’s specialties. Visitors can expect to see extensive collections of masks and puppets from across the globe. All 1,000-plus masks and over 4,000 puppets are neatly categorised into different rooms, and provided with elaborate captions that tell stories about a particular object and what it means for a certain culture.
This museum was founded by Ubud prince Tjokorda Gde Agung Sukawati and Dutch-born painter Rudolf Bonnet, who became the first director and curator respectively. Starting out as a local painters organisation, the museum foundation contributed a lot in keeping high-quality, sought-after Balinese artwork home. Since then, the collection keeps growing with remarkable new additions, now closing in on more than 150 fine paintings and dozens of sculptures from different eras, styles, and schools in Bali.
This gallery serves as a hub for talented local artists to showcase and sell their best artworks. Consequently, visitors can expect a wide array of collections, from traditional to modern, in various different styles for every taste. A helpful staff will help show you around, or if you’re lucky, one of the artists themselves. Prices come higher than those you’d find in traditional art markets (although still cheaper than many other fine arts galleries in Ubud!), but bargaining is always welcomed. Also, you’ll be contributing to the artist cooperative and appreciate the value of good art.
Semar Kuning, Lodtunduh, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia, +62 361 947080
Threads of Life is a rounded initiative that focuses on the compelling but overlooked art of traditional weaving. The establishment brings together the best and most authentic textiles from rural and traditional communities across the archipelago, along with the local wisdom and stories they contain. Visitors can sign up for a guided tour through the retail exhibits and learn from the knowledgeable staff with hands-on experience in obtaining and preserving pieces from this magnificent heritage. See something you like? Purchase and bring it home. Even better, you can also sign up for classes, including the popular Natural Dye Batik Class.
Threads Of Life, Jalan Kajeng, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia, +62 361 972187
Being a contemporary art gallery, modern in its management and architecture as well as reverberating with dynamic and fresh collection, doesn’t make this gallery any less rooted in the fascinating Balinese culture. The gallery is actively curating and obtaining fresh contemporary artworks in various styles, including the prized traditional Balinese style, and mostly from young, local artists. Also on site is an art library that lends and sells reference books, artist biographies, catalogues, and more. Komaneka Gallery only showcases the highest quality, hand-picked artworks, so if you’re planning to purchase, be ready for the higher price tags.
Komaneka Art Gallery, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia, +62 361 4792518