National Visual Arts Gallery is flanked by the National Theatre and the National Library. A tranquil complex also known as the Balai Seni Visual Negara, it showcases a permanent collection of over 2,500 local and foreign works of art (including photography) by celebrated contemporary artists.
Locals refer to it simply as the National Art Gallery. The RM40 million complex is spread out over three floors and has seven galleries plus outdoor exhibition areas and a café. Established by the Majlis Kesenian Persekututan (Malay Arts Council) in 1958, it is the country’s official venue for art workshops and exhibitions and even organises art classes for kids.
Design of Natonal Visual Arts Gallery
The National Visual Arts Gallery’s architecture is similar to the Istana Budaya (National Theatre) next door: it is a blend of slate, tinted glass and clean modern lines with traditional Malay design prominent in the form of a light blue origami-style metallic roof. There is a pretty fountain just outside the main entrance.
The interior of the National Visual Arts Gallery has polished wooden floors and warm lighting and there is swirly Guggenheim Museum-style staircase that dominates the space.
A favourite piece at the National Visual Arts Gallery is a striking mural entitled, Graffiti, by Mahadir Masri by the walkway leading up to the main entrance of the gallery. Other noteworthy works of art include paintings by Zulkifli Moh’d Dohalan, Wong Hoi Cheong, Ahad Osman and the renowned batik artist Chuah Than Teng. Also showcased is a collection of 1900s ceramics, a superb 1964 Chinese ink painting and a variety of other prints, photos, sculptures and textiles.
Exhibits at the National Visual Arts Gallery display the artist’s name and the date of the piece but other information is unavailable.
Focus On Malaysia
The ground floor of the National Visual Arts Gallery is given over to temporary exhibitions of paintings, sculptures or photography that are primarily Malaysian (but also of other Southeast Asian countries). The second and third floors of the exhibit house the museum’s permanent collection: you will find more contemporary canvases on the second floor – colourful works of art with elements of Islamic design. The top floor sees the museum’s more traditional works. Chiefly pieces focused on landscapes and portraits, these works have aspects of historical and rural Malaysia (think handicraft-making and music-playing) as its theme.
National Visual Arts Gallery
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 18:00
- Address: 2, Jalan Temerloh, Off Jalan Tun Razak, 53200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
- Tel: +603 4025 4990