These art galleries in the Central Bali town of Ubud represent the pinnacle of Bali's indulgent attitude to art and its creators.
For generations, Ubud's nobles have long prided themselves on their roles as patrons of fine art; their sponsorship has helped make Ubud an artist's haven, attracting creatives from all over Indonesia and abroad. The Ubud nobles' careful cultivation of upcoming Balinese artists have borne fruit in present-day artists' communities who continue to fill Ubud's art galleries with their unique brand of magic.
Whether you're just looking or in the market to actually buy some Balinese art for your personal collection (find out more about shopping in Ubud), these Ubud art galleries should be at the top of any Ubud travel agenda.
Museum Puri Lukisan: Princely Lineage
Located just a few minutes' walk west of the Ubud Royal Palace, the Museum Puri Lukisan showcases an impressive collection of Ubud modern art, housed in three gallery buildings situated throughout a calm, beautifully manicured garden.
The Museum Puri Lukisan traces its roots to the kind patronage of an Ubud prince, Tjokorda Gde Agung Sukawati, who co-founded the gallery with expatriate artist Rudolf Bonnet. The three gallery buildings tell the story of the development of modern art in Ubud - visitors must see each building in a particular sequence. The annual Kebiar Seni presents new work from Bali's young traditional artists on the museum grounds, an opportunity for collectors to snatch up work from future masters.
More on this sanctuary for modern art here: Museum Puri Lukisan.
Blanco Renaissance Museum: Spanish Fly
After the Catalan romantic-turned-beloved Balinese expatriate artist known as Antonio Blanco passed away in 1999, the mansion he left behind was transformed into a memorial to his life's work.
The building and the art inside presents a fascinating picture of Blanco. The exterior sports sculpture like a decorative gate patterned after Blanco's signature, while the interior shows off a series of graceful, erotically languid nude portraits.
Other buildings on the five-acre property include the family house, where the master's son Mario continues in his father's footsteps; a temple; a restaurant; and a gift shop, where prints of the master's work may be purchased. For more on this place, read: Bali's Blanco Renaissance Museum.
Agung Rai Museum of Art: Years Apart
The wide-ranging private collection in the Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA) is one of the island's largest under one roof, having been assembled by a Balinese entrepreneur, curator and resort owner. The works displayed at ARMA come from different eras in Balinese art, some dating back to the early 20th century.
ARMA's featured artists include artists from Bali and beyond - work by both Javanese and non-Indonesian artists are well-represented, including foreign artists who settled in Ubud before World War II - Rudolph Bonnet and Walter Spies among them. Spies' work has been separated from the rest and placed in a distinct collection.
Visitors must pay an entrance fee of IDR 40,000 per person.
Museum Rudana Fine Art Gallery: Best of the Best
The massive Museum Rudana, founded by an Ubud politician named Nyoman Rudana, presents an impressively eclectic collection of contemporary Balinese and Indonesian art, with over 400 pieces arranged over three levels. Some Ubud art stalwarts make an impressive showing here, including the late Don Antonio Blanco, who has his own museum elsewhere in Ubud, and that icon of Ubud modern art, I Gusti Nyoman Lempad.
For art collectors, the Rudana Gallery next door sells new artworks from up-and-coming Ubud artists. Entrance fee costs IDR 20,000 per head.
Neka Art Museum: Exhibit in a Garden
The Neka's 2,500 sqm of exhibit space exhibits about 300 pieces of modern Balinese art spanning the years between the late 19th century to the present. The Balinese-style pavilions are set in a tranquil garden overlooking a river: the Balinese Painting Hall, the Lempad Pavilion, the Arie Smit Pavilion, and the Contemporary Indonesian Art Hall all show a different facet of the country's creative talent through the ages.
The Neka Art Museum is not to be confused with the Neka Gallery, an affiliated but distinct collection. Watch out for the display of the week at the exhibition hall. Other structures on the site include a bookshop and a café.