A visit to an art museum is probably not what most people associate with a trip to Bali, but Bali has a unique painting tradition. Within the last couple of years, paintings from some of the most well-known painters from Bali has reached prices well above 2.000.000$ on auctions.
On top of that, Bali’s has some world class art museums, so whether you are a true art aficionado or just enjoy walking through a museum discovering new artists you should consider adding a visit to one of Bali’s art museums to your Bali itinerary.
Below 6 art museums in Bali where you can find paintings from Bali’s many great artists.
A brief intro to the Balinese painting tradition
The Balinese painting tradition dates back to the 13th century, but it was in the 1920’s things really exploded. Up until then, almost all painting in Bali had been religious paintings and the colors used where the colors that could be obtained from natural dyes.
In 1927, the King in Ubud invited western artists to Bali and encouraged them to share their techniques with local artists. In return the King provided free accommodation.
Among the artist who arrived to Bali in that period were German Walter Spies, The Dutchmen Arie Smit and Walter Bonnet and Belgian Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur – some of those now selling for millions of dollars.
In the period following the 1920’s new painting styles emerged from Balinese painters. The different styles got named after the village they emerged from (Ubud, Sanur and Batuan being the three major villages) and commonly known as modern traditional Balinese paintings.
Since then Balinese art has continued to develop. Ubud is still the cultural center in Bali and it is in Ubud you find Bali’s most important art museums, but Sanur and Nusa Dua has museums where you can enjoy quality art from Bali as well.
1. Museum Puri Lukisan (Ubud)
The Museum Puri Lukisan was founded in 1956 on the initiative of Tjokorda Gde Agung Sukawati, the prince of Ubud and the painter and friend of the price, Rudolf Bonnet.
A walk throught the buidlings of the museum will take you on a tour through the history of Balinese art. Everything is well explained with small signs next to the artworks.
Among the highlight of the museum is ink drawings by I Gusti Nyoman Lempad, one of Bali’s most famous artists.
Included in a visit to Museum is also a stroll through the lovely garden that is part of the museum ground and a drink at the museums café.
Admission: 50.000 IDR (Drink included). Web: Museum Puri Lukisan
2. Agung Rai Museum of Art – ARMA (Ubud)
The Agung Rai Museum has paintings by almost all the foreign painters that were part of the evolution of Bali’s painting tradition in the years around 1930 and is the only place in Bali where you can see the work of Walter Spies.
When it comes to the works from local artists, the collection is equally impressive, with several of the most influential Balinese artists hanging on the walls of the museum.
Apart from being a museum, the ARMA is also a cultural center and is the host of theaters and dance performances. If you like to create your own art, the ARMA has several courses and workshops, including woodcarving, painting and batik courses.
- Admission: 50.000 IDR (Tea or coffee included)
- Web:The ARMA
3. Neka Art Museum (Ubud)
The Neka Art Museum is located in Kedewatan village a few kilometers northwest of Ubuds center. The museum consists of several buildings and pavilions dedicated to different styles or painters.
I Gusti Nyoman Lempad, Arie Smith Miguel Covarrubias, Rudolf Bonnet and Donald Friend are among the featured artists.
In addition to the permanent exhibition there is an exhibition hall with changing displays.
- Admission: 50.000 IDR
- Web: Neka Art Museum
4. Museum Le Mayeur (Sanur)
Located in Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur’s house in Sanur you find this small museum which has 80 of his paintings exhibited.
Adrien-Jaen Le Mayeur arrived in Bali in 1932 and a few years later married the young Balinese dancer Ni-Pollok. Ni Pollok was the model for many of the pictures you can see in the museum.
The house is fairly much in its original state, which makes visit feel that rather like you are visiting a private home than a museum. On the negative side, the old building isn’t ideal for preserving the paintings which shows on some of them.
If you are interested in architecture, the house alone is worth a visit as a great example of traditional Balinese architecture.
- Admission: 10.000 IDR
5. Museum Pasifika (Nusa Dua)
The Museum Pasifika is located in Nusa Dua and doesn’t seem to get the attention it deserves. On the positive side that means when visiting you will most likely be able to enjoy the museum without too many people buzzing around you.
Among the most important artists on display you find the works of Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur, Theo Meier, Miguel Covarrubias and Donald Friend.
Apart from art from Bali, Museum Pasifika has a large collection of art from the rest of Asia, including a nice collection of masks and weapons from Pacific Islands.
- Admission: 70.000 IDR. Children under 10: Free.
- Web: Museum Pasifika
6. Museum Rudana (Ubud)
The museum is located in the village of Peliatan, just east of the center of Ubud.
The museum opened in 1995 by Nyoma Rudana, a local politician with a passion for Balinese and Indonesian art. The museum is striving to support living Balinese artist as well as to preserve early Balinese paintings and to keep Balinese paintings in Bali.
The three floors of Museum Rudana has paintings from Bali dating more than 150 years back as well as modern paintings on display.
- Admission: 20:000 IDR
- Web: Museum Rudana