MUSEUMS & GALLERIES

Kuala Lumpur has quite a number of museums that each focus on specific themes. And not all the museums are limited to local topics. There are some museums that cover universal themes such as Islamic Arts.

Kuala Lumpur also boasts an impressive number of artistic and cultural spaces too. The galleries around the city often display works from local, regional as well as international artists. Whether you are interested in buying art of would just like to admire the various works, Kuala Lumpur’s art scene will not disappoint.

NATIONAL VISUAL ART GALLERY

No doubt because of its somewhat inconvenient location, that National Visual Art Gallery gets far less foreign visitors than it merits. Those tourists who do make the trip through, are rewarded with some of Malaysia’s best modern art. As well as displaying works from the large permanent collection, the gallery also puts on special exhibitions. It does plenty of education work too, to help encourage an appreciation of Malaysian art. The gallery can be combined easily with a visit to nearby Titiwangsa Lake Gardens.

LOCATION: JALAN TEMERLOH

PETRONAS ART GALLERY

Bringing a whole new meaning to the term “oil painting”, this excellent art gallery is owned and run by Petronas, the Malaysian national energy firm. As well as offering a showcase for local and international artists, it also runs a wide range of educational programmes to boost the understanding and appreciation of art. Although its show may not quite rival those at the National Gallery, it’s a whole lot easier to get to.

LOCATION: SURIA KLCC

THE ANNEXE GALLERY

Take the vintage lift up to the top floor of the Central Market Annexe, and you will find yourself in the unofficial centre of KL’s alternative arts scene. As well as putting on temporary exhibitions, it is also a venue for regular Art for Grabs mini-festivals, film screening, and drama, dance and music performances. The Annexe is part of a cluster of galleries, which together make a convenient introduction to visual arts in KL.

LOCATION: CENTRAL MARKET ANNEXE

MAP @ PUBLIKA

Only founded in 2010, MAP has already established itself as one of the city’s most innovative cultural platforms. It is split into two main spaces: White Box, a visual arts gallery which showcases a whole range of events, including Art Auction Malaysia; and Black Box, which provides a space for performing arts. The square outside MAP hosts regular art bazaars and free film screenings.

LOCATION: MENARA KENCANA PETROLEUM

NATIONAL MUSEUM

Divided into four themed galleries, across two floors, the National Museum, charts Malaysia’s story from ancient to modern times. Of most interest to foreign visitors are the first two galleries, particularly the displays about prehistoric humans. The later exhibits are geared more towards appealing to Malaysian visitors. In the grounds of the museum, which opened in 1963, are a random collection of exhibits, including a steam locomotive and a traditional wooden palace. 
 

LOCATION: JALAN DAMANSARA

ISLAMIC ARTS MUSEUM MALAYSIA (IAMM)

Housed in one of Malaysia’s most attractive modern buildings, the IAMM is a “must see” attraction while in KL. The museum has more than 7,000 Islamic artefacts from around the world in its permanent collection. The many highlights include delicate jewellery, miniature paintings from the Ottoman Empire, and scale models of notable mosques. As well as the permanent collection, the museum also hosts high quality special exhibitions. The shop and Middle Eastern restaurant are both worth visits too.

LOCATION: JALAN LEMBAH PERDANA

ROYAL MALAYSIAN POLICE MUSEUM

The Royal Malaysian Police Force can trace its origins to British-ruled Penang in the early 19th century. Over that time it has faced a number of challengers, from violent clashes between rival secret societies, to communist insurgency. This museum does a reasonable job of explaining how the force dealt with those challenges, including exhibits of some of the weaponry at its disposal. Although perhaps not worth a trip in its own right, it can be combined easily with nearby attractions such as the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia.

LOCATION: JALAN PERDANA

RAILWAY MUSEUM

Somewhat of a hidden gem, this museum houses an eclectic collection of memorabilia from Malaysia’s railways, much of it dating back to colonial times. Among the most interesting exhibits is the bone of an elephant, which was killed in 1894, while charging a train. The museum is located in the main hall of Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, one of the architectural highlights of the city. Constructed in 1910, it is an extraordinary blend of Eastern and Western styles.

LOCATION: KUALA LUMPUR​ RAILWAY STATION , JALAN SULTAN HISHAMUDIN

NATIONAL TEXTILE MUSEUM

Well worth a visit, even for those not overly fascinated by textiles, this museum is housed in one of the city’s most impressive colonial-era buildings. The exhibits, which are divided into four galleries, over two floors, do a good job of showing the history and traditions of textiles in Malaysia. One of the museum’s strengths is that it takes a very broad view of what constitutes textiles - everything from shoes to jewellery. The building itself, which was completed in 1905, served several functions, before becoming this museum in 2010.

LOCATION: JALAN SULTAN HISHAMUDIN

BADAN WARISAN HERITAGE CENTRE

Housed in a restored 1920s colonial bungalow, is one of Malaysia’s most exceptional organisations. Badan Warisan has been fighting for decades to save the country’s built heritage - its most notable success being Central Market. The centre includes a heritage-themed gift shop, and a restored wooden Malay house, from the northern state of Kedah. The twice daily guided tours are highly recommended, and include free mosquito repellant! It can be combined with a visit to the nearby Crafts Complex.

LOCATION: JALAN STONOR

TELECOMMUNICATION MUSEUM

Covering more than a century of Malaysia’s telecommunications history, this museum is located in a beautiful neo-classical building, which was narrowly saved from demolition in the mid-eighties. Built in 1928, it started life as a manual telephone exchange, before becoming British Malaya’s first mechanical exchange a decade later. The exhibits, over three floors, span the development from morse code telegraph to digital technology. An interactive approach, helps keep the experience fun. 

LOCATION: JALAN RAJA CHULAN

TRADE MUSEUM

It is the first trade museum in Malaysia, and is located in MATRADE, a centre on trade promotion for the country. The museum consist of three zones. On the Trail of Trades, Evolution of Trade in Malaysia and Information Centre. The museum offers visitors a myriad of information and interesting contents on the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE), as well as topics related to the country from times of old to this modern era.

LOCATION: MENARA MATRADE, JALAN SULTAN HAJI

KUALA LUMPUR CITY GALLERY

It is the first trade museum in Malaysia, and is located in MATRADE, a centre on trade promotion for the country. The museum consist of three zones. On the Trail of Trades, Evolution of Trade in Malaysia and Information Centre. The museum offers visitors a myriad of information and interesting contents on the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE), as well as topics related to the country from times of old to this modern era.

LOCATION: JALAN RAJA, DATARAN MERDEKA

BANK NEGARA MALAYSIA MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY

A museum on money established by the country’s central bank, the Bank Negara Malaysia located in the Sasana Kijang Complex. Here you can learn all about money through interactive and computerised games, as well as interesting facts and information on money. There is an Economics Gallery, Islamic Finance Gallery, Numismatics Gallery and Children’s Gallery. You will also be able to view the Central Bank’s art collection of renowned Malaysian contemporary artists in the Art Gallery. Guided tours can also be arranged for groups of visitors from schools, universities and non-profit organisation. The tour is free of charge and must be booked two weeks in advance.

LOCATION: SASANA KIJANG, JALAN DATO ONN

ILLUSION 3D ART MUSEUM

The Illusion 3D Art Museum has 36 3-dimensional works of art that depict pop culture as well as scenes that are unique to Malaysia. Visitors to the museums can interact with the exhibits and have their photos taken as if they are part of the scene. Become a barber to Tunku Abdul Rahman (Malaysia’s first prime minister) or do a battle with Darth Vader, wait for an old cobbler to fix your shoes or mimic a rubber tapper, each creative exhibit offers an interesting interactive picture.

LOCATION: CENTRAL MARKET ANNEXE, JALAN HANG TUAH KASTURI

MUSIC MUSEUM

The Music Museum exhibits a variety of traditional musical instruments from the Malay, Chinese, Indian and indigenous communities of Malaysia. The traditional musical ensembles such as the gamelan are featured as well as an explanation of nobat, an Arab music genre that became popular in the Royal Malay Courts in the 13th century. One display is dedicated to P.Ramlee (1929-1973) who was probably Malaysia’s most popular singer, actor, director, musician and songwriter. His restful tones play in the background giving the museum a nostalgic atmosphere.

LOCATION: JALAN RAJA

TUNKU ABDUL RAHMAN PUTRA MEMORIAL

Tunku Abdul Rahman, who was the Malaysian Prime Minister from independence in 1957, until 1970, is known as the “Father of Independence”. His memorial contains an esoteric collection of exhibits from his life, including documents, newspaper articles, photos, furniture and clothing. It is located in Tunku Abdul Rahman’s official residence while he was in power. 

LOCATION: JALAN DATO ONN

TUN ABDUL RAZAK MEMORIAL

This memorial is dedicated to Tun Abdul Razak, the Malaysian Prime Minister from 1970 to 1976. There are some 2,200 exhibits dedicated to his life and work, split into two main sections. It is located in the building which was his official residence from 1962, when he was Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister, until his death in 1976

LOCATION: SRI TAMAN, JALAN PERDANA

TUN HUSSEIN ONN MEMORIAL

Tun Hussein Onn was Malaysia’s third Prime Minister, taking over from Tun Abdul Razak in 1976, and ruling until 1981. His memorial houses a collection of exhibits related to his life and works, spread out over three floors. The third floor includes his original office, exactly as it was when he was in power, more than three decades ago.

LOCATION: KOMPLEKS BUKIT PERDANA, JALAN DATO ONN

P.RAMLEE MEMORIAL LIBRARY

Born in Penang in 1929, P.Ramlee became an entertainment icon, not just in Malaysia, but in Singapore and Indonesia too. As well as acting and directing in more than 60 films, he was a singer, songwriter and composer. The varied exhibits are an interesting taster of the multiple talents of the much-loved entertainer, who died of a heart attack in 1973. The memorial is located in his Kuala Lumpur home.

LOCATION: JALAN DEDAP, TAMAN P.RAMLEE, SETAPAK

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