Though Malaysia is great for its food, beaches, islands, and nature, the art scene in the country is steadily getting more recognition. There are now countless art galleries and venues dedicated to displaying masterpieces from local and regional artists. But the art in Malaysia isn’t just confined in the four walls of an art gallery; there are countless of street arts, theaters, small-scale museums in the nook and crannies of major cities across the country. Here are 8 art places that you can visit in Kuala Lumpur and some major cities in Malaysia to help you appreciate local art further.
Petronas Art Gallery
While visiting the Twin Towers is a must for tourists and locals alike, the Suria KLCC mall underneath it holds more than just luxury boutiques and restaurants. On the third floor of the mall sits the Petronas Art Gallery, or Galeri Petronas, which houses art pieces from local and international artists. Throughout the years, major art exhibitions are held here as well as workshops to bring more spotlight on contemporary art made by Malaysian and foreign talents.
Shalini Ganendra Fine Art
For something a little bit more low-key, Shalini Ganendra Fine Art uses a holistic approach to display its art pieces. The gallery’s collection includes paintings, sculptures, and various art installations that visitors can interact with. The gallery hides behind the façade of a minimalistic, contemporary mansion in Seksyen 16 in PJ but don’t be deceived as the art pieces inside are bursting with life and meaning.
Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC)
Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley have a strong community of performing artists ranging from musicians to stage actors and actresses. You can get a taste of KL’s performing arts by visiting the Damansara Performing Arts Center (DPAC) located in Empire Damansara, PJ. Aside from regular shows and performances, DPAC also offers various courses and programs such as the Dancer’s Training Programme covering ballet and contemporary dance as well as the d’Arts Programme and workshops.
Moroccan Pavilion, Putrajaya
Although this venue is not necessarily an art center, the Moroccan Pavillion is the perfect place for professional and amateur photographers to snap a few pictures. The building is situated in the Putrajaya Botanical Garden and it very closely resembles a traditional Moroccan palace. The architectural beauty of this place makes it feel like you’re no longer in Malaysia, featuring influences from Granada, Cordoba, as well as Islamic touches like verses from the Quran etched on the mosaic walls.
Kong Heng Square, Ipoh
Situated right next to the historically iconic Kedai Kopi Kong Heng (Kong Heng Coffee Shop), the Kong Heng Square has everything from a pop-up craft market to a museum dedicated to the works of the late Malaysian director, Yasmin Ahmad. The place as a whole gives an industrial vibe with its peeling walls, creeping vines, and metal beams while murals are hidden in strategic places to fulfill your Instagram needs.
The Orangutan House, Melaka
While you can’t doubt the beauty of contemporary art, for some people they can get a little bit dull and repetitive. The Orangutan House in Jonker Street, Melaka has a lot of colorful and vibrant geometric art pieces that will certainly wake you up from your food coma after feasting on cendol and chicken rice balls. Not only do the inside is a colorful art heaven, you can find a gigantic orangutan mural on the side of the building.
ChinaHouse is a café, restaurant, bakery, library, souvenir shop, bar, and art gallery fitted into one heritage building. The place perfectly combines the classic, traditional Penang atmosphere with a contemporary and minimalistic addition in their restaurant and café section. Other than reveling in the beauty of Penangite art in their gallery, you can find vintage poetry books and novels that ChinaHouse has preserved. So, if you’re planning to visit Penang with your non-artsy friends, consider stopping by the ChinaHouse for their art, food, and more.
Street Art @ Various Locations
Lastly, your visit to Kuala Lumpur or other major artsy cities in Malaysia won’t be complete without taking fun pictures with the country’s many street arts. While Penang street arts are considered the most popular, Ipoh, Melaka, Kuching, Sibu, Johor Bahru, Jota Kinabalu, and even here in Kuala Lumpur itself and its surrounding areas like PJ and Shah Alam.
Getting around these areas in short distances are pretty easy with access to Uber or Grab (their local version of Uber) and they’re very affordable in Southeast Asia. Try your best to avoid their cabs or busses as it can be highly unreliable but do use their busses for inter-state travels. Best of all, English is their second language (due to their British colonial background) and there’s hardly any language barrier when you’re in city areas.
These are only a few of the myriad of artsy venues that you can find in Kuala Lumpur and beyond. No matter what your preference in art is, either contemporary or traditional, you can surely find a place to satisfy your artsy needs while you’re visiting the country.