Neka Art Museum is an art gallery and museum established by Balinese art lover Wayan Suteja Neka. The museum was built in 1976 and inaugurated by then Ministry of Culture & Education in 1982.
Inside Neka Art Museum are collections of paintings and sculptures displayed through six different buildings in a Balinese-style garden compound. The museum is located on Jalan Raya Campuhan, in the village of Kedewatan, northwest of the main Ubud centre.
The six buildings that house the expansive collections of paintings, sculptures and traditional Balinese keris daggers - this latter being a personal pursuit by the founder, who also happens to be a generation of the Balinese pande clan of smiths - are designed using traditional Balinese architecture and layout.
The first building houses variations in Balinese paintings, and consists of four exhibits. Exhibit A displays Balinese paintings, from the classical Kamasan-style wayang paintings depicting the Ramayana and Mahabharata epics as well as Javanese and Balinese myths and legends.
Exhibits B and C of Neka Art Museum display paintings with western influences which developed in the 1920s in Ubud, and later became known as Ubud-style paintings.
This influence was brought on by German artist Walter Spies and Dutch painter Rudolf Bonnet, who both introduced their subtle techniques in lighting, shadows, perspectives and subject anatomy. Through exhibit D, there are Batuan-style paintings hailing from the village.
The second building is referred to as the Arie Smit pavilion, after the Dutch-born Indonesian painter who resides in Bali, Adrianus Wilhelmus (Arie) Smit. The art pavilion was set up in admiration of the artist by Neka for his role in developing arts in Ubud.
The pavilion consists of two floors, the first displaying the works of young artists from the ‘Young Artists Movement’ that Smit help generate in 1960 – the likes of Nyoman Cekra, Ketut Soki and several others in contemporary, expressionistic and abstract styles.
The second floor features the works of Arie Smit in various themes and painting styles that depict Balinese community life and imaginative renderings of Bali’s nature scenes.
The third building houses photographic exhibits. Here, visitors will find archive collections of black-and-white photos especially those taken by American Robert Koke (one of the earliest expatriates in Bali), dating back to the 1930s.
The fourth building is the Lempad pavilion, named in honour late Balinese sculptor and architect, Gusti Nyoman Lempad. Lempad is best known for his unique Balinese painting styles. His themes range from epics to local legends and rural Balinese village life.
The fifth building houses contemporary and modern artworks from Indonesian artists through five exhibits. The sixth building features a combination of Western and Eastern styles. This two-storey building is dedicated to the works of famous Indonesian and International artists.
The first floor features the works of acclaimed Indonesian artists, the likes of Affandi, Soedjono, Srihadi Soedarsono, Widayat, Nasyah Djamin, Bagong Kussudiardjo, Ahmad Sadali and Abas Alibasyah. The second floor features international artists such as Antonio Blanco, Rudolf Bonnet, Miguel Covarrubias, and others.
Besides the six main art buildings, Neka Art Museum also features the founder’s own passion through his traditional keris dagger collection. Here Neka keeps his cherished 272 curved daggers that he has collected throughout half century of his lifetime.
These elaborately decorated daggers are genuine samples made by master smiths of the past and all are laid out in order behind glass displays.
Good to Know about Neka Art Museum
A visit to the Neka Art Museum is both a journey to the past, as well as an educational tour that enlightens the visitor with information on techniques and the history of the development of art in Bali.
Visitors might also meet up with the founder himself, who, as a member of the Pande clan of Balinese smiths himself, will passionately show and explain to guests the process of creating a keris dagger and his affinity with the living legend, Arie Smit.
The museum features modern supporting facilities: Spacious meeting halls, tropical gardens, a refreshment store, restrooms, and ample parking space make for an enjoyable day at the museum.
Also in Ubud are the Neka Gallery on the Jalan Raya Ubud main road, and the Agung Rai Museum of Art in Peliatan, which are some of Bali's largest and most important.
Neka Art Museum
- Location: Jalan Raya Camphuan, Kedewatan, Ubud
- Tel: +62 (0)361 975 074