Bali Shell Museum

Bali and Indonesia’s only shell museum

(Bali Shell Museum closed down in April 2014, but moved to Pengosekan in Ubud).

Among the museums and galleries in Bali, nothing comes close to the Bali Shell Museum, which opened in 2009 as the only establishment in the Indonesian archipelago that houses shell varieties of unimaginable shapes and sizes, including 100-year-old fossilised specimens and items converted into fine art. The three-floor site that occupies over a half of an office building on the Sunset Road in Kuta is unassuming, its insides hinted only by a large stylised signage with starfish and wave motifs above glass windows. Inside is a vast collection of seashells from Indonesia and all over the world – the result of dedication and a lifelong passion of its founder. Whether you’re a conchologist or not, the Bali Shell Museum will keep you amused and amazed for hours.

The first floor is a gorgeously laid out gallery with a trove of lamps, home ware and accessories from shells and mother-of-pearl, and it’s where most of the exquisite items here are available for purchase. Move up to the second floor, the collection expands to display ancient fossils of all sorts and sizes, including extinct Madagascan cephalopods estimated to be over 300 million years old. These, with large specimens of extinct marine invertebrates, ammonites, trilobites and a giant fossil with a diameter that exceeds your arm span (said to be Asia’s largest) make this part of the museum the equivalent of a walk through the triceratops and brontosaurus section of a palaeontology museum.

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On the third floor there’s even more colourful and exotic shells to admire, with specimens comprising sea urchins, a multitude of preserved sea creatures including starfish, sharks, and the small and shiny Monetaria moneta or money cowry, which, as its name implies, once served as money in ancient times. Several glass displays containing the neatly arranged shells look like aquariums – without the water. In total, there are around 10,000 shells and over 100 ancient fossils housed under its roof. You’ll also notice a pair of statues of Rama and Sita, the main characters from the Ramayana epic, made up of an approximate 30,000 tiny shells. Down again on the second floor, you can enjoy documentary screenings in the theatre section, including the story behind the collection.

Room temperature and humidity levels are well kept, and maintenance schedules are met for the upkeep of these delicate pieces. Even lighting is moderated to avoid discoloration. The collection at the Bali Shell Museum is continuously growing, especially after its active participation with notable international seashell organisations and societies such as the Conchologists of America (COA), the Association Française de Conchyliologie, and the Belgian Society for Conchology. The museum joins the shell museums around the world such as America’s Sanibel Island, Sablo D’Olonne, Okinawa, Thailand (Bangkok and Phuket), Philippines and China. It provides a great educational alternative to the more common dining, surfing and shopping adventures while in Bali. Admission fees apply.

Bali Shell Museum

  • Opening Hours: 09:30 – 21:30
  • Location: Jalan Sunset Road 819, Kuta
  • Tel: +62 (0)361 752 932
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