I'm a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia, who enjoys writing about the things I love: travel, nature-based activities, the arts, spirituality and creative, fun activities for children.
Published August 14th 2014
A Glimpse Into Bali's Rich Cultural Heritage
Far away from the maddening crowds of Bali's tourist beaches, Ubud enjoys a well-deserved reputation of being the island's cultural heart. Situated approximately an hour and a half inland amongst dense jungle and terraced rice paddies, the town is an eclectic mix of traditional Balinese culture and western New Age cool, featuring numerous galleries, cultural centres and studio workshops.
Amongst these, the Agung Rai Museum of Art (popularly known as ARMA) is a unique destination that provides a wide range of Balinese cultural encounters including an art museum, luxurious resort, restaurant and cafe, all housed in exquisitely crafted traditional structures situated amidst tranquil gardens: a sensory delight, complete with the stone sculptures and water features that are so characteristic of Balinese design.
Every visitor to Bali cannot help but notice the cultural richness that is apparent everywhere, and the Agung Rai Museum of Art is one of the island's foremost institutions celebrating this creative wealth and diversity. The paintings housed in the museum date from the late nineteenth century up to the present day, and include both traditional and contemporary works by local Balinese artists as well as those by visiting painters from around the world. If you want to take home a special memento of your visit to Bali, be sure to also pop into the centre's book shop which purveys a wonderful assortment of photo books and literature detailing Balinese art and culture as well as high quality poster prints, local handicrafts and other wares.
For those with a love for the performing arts, ARMA also regularly serves as a venue for traditional Balinese dance performances including ancient theatrical masterpieces such as the Ramayana, classic temple dances and contemporary adaptations of traditional Balinese themes. During the annual BaliSpirit Festival in late March and early April, the event schedule is especially jam-packed, with their majestic outdoor stage featuring performances every evening. Regular workshops and lectures are also held on the premises throughout the year demonstrating various aspects of traditional culture such as art, handicrafts, Hindu astrology, yoga, culture and history.
Finally, if you're looking for a tranquil and culturally rich alternative to the flashy resorts of Bali's beach towns, why not stay at the ARMA resort next time you're on the island? Situated in lush tropical gardens in the heart of beautiful Ubud, and just a stone's throw away from the museum, it's a great spot to relax and delve deeper into the mysteries of traditional Balinese culture.
In conclusion, if you want to cultivate a more profound appreciation of Bali, a visit to this awesome cultural centre is something that simply can't be missed. While an amble through the gardens is a sensory delight, the works displayed in the museum provide an intriguing insight into the island's history and cultural practices, and a better appreciation as to why it's popularly known as 'The Island of the Gods'. To learn more about this wonderful cultural space, visit the Agung Rai Museum of Art website.