In the south of Ubud, you can find the ARMA museum, which stands for Agung Rai Museum of Art. It is part of the ARMA Foundation which aims at preserving Balinese art and culture.
If you want to create an understanding of the history and the many styles of Balinese paintings than this museum is one of the great places to go to.
The main entrance of the museum is just next to the stylish ARMA resort on Jalan Raya Pengosekan, but you can also enter it from Cafe ARMA on Jalan Hanoman.
ARMA also has a cultural center where theater performances and cultural workshops are held together with painting, dance and music classes. If you are lucky, you might see children learning the fine Balinese dancing techniques in the pavilion near the reception.
You can also join courses yourself such as wood carving, Balinese batik, Balinese painting, and Balinese dancing. There are also workshops on Hinduism in Bali, the effect of modernity on Bali and the history of Bali.
There is also a book shop, library and some rooms where conferences and training can be organized.
The paintings of Balinese, Indonesian and foreign artists are displayed in two main Balinese styled buildings located in a beautiful garden.
The collection is a mixture of paintings ranging from traditional to modern which includes Kamasan paintings on tree bark. There are Batuan style paintings dating back to the 1930s and paintings from famous Balinese artists.
The permanent exhibition of painting is owned by the ARMA Foundation or is on loan from the Agung Rai family.
The museum also has a large collection of paintings by foreign artists. They have influenced Balinese art through time, such as Rudolf Bonnet, Willem Gerard Hofker and Willem Dooijewaard.
This is also the only place where you can see the works of the painter Walter Spies, an important figure in the history of Balinese paintings.
The paintings are clearly explained and are exhibited on high spacious walls, so this makes it really nice to take your time while walking past the paintings.
I am amazed about the details in the pictures and how the painters managed to squeeze many activities of daily life on the canvas. They’ve managed to fill up every little spot.
I thought that some had painted people in a more ‘comical’ kind of way making it bright and playful. Others managed to picture the gracefulness of the Balinese people amazingly well.
The Rp. 25.000 entrance fee includes a cup of coffee or tea in the cafe of the museum. I had never tried the Balinese coffee before so I gave it go. If you love strong coffee then this is definitely your thing.
Performances at the Arma museum
As mentioned before, the museum also organizes performances in the evening except on Tuesdays. They even offer you dinner for around Rp. 100.000-135.000 before the performances start so you won’t be late.
And at Full Moon and New Moon they have the exciting Kecak dance. Something you should not miss out on when you’re in Ubud. At the museum, you can get the full week program of performances.
I must admit, museums have never been on the top of my things-to-do in Ubud list but after visiting this museum we were glad that we went.
I hope you’ll have such a wonderful learning experience as we had 😉