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museumWhat is Living Museum

Bali is given the name of living museum by historians and people visiting Bali found this statement is correct. All historical heritages and ancient way of life are preserved well mixed and adopted in the daily life of the society. Positive attitude among leaders of Balinese that when they found any ancient artifacts or any ancient remains they will preserve it in relation with religious ritual by building a temple. As of the nature of any material in a temple, it is considered sacred object and no one will risk to touch it without special ceremony as symbolic permission to the holy sprits. That was, when archaeologist made a research to read the inscriptions of ancient king, the people had to make religious ritual before the reading, and will be escorted by religious figures. Almost bigger part of movable ancient heritages such as stone sculptures, bronze objects, inscriptions are preserved in the temple. They have made a good concept of preservation so until now we have historical heritages still preserved well, but at the other hand the historical facts are not in-site anymore, and this gives special difficulty in developing the research. It is lucky also that the people become more and more aware about the modern technique of preservation and the increasing trust the government in preserving the heritages. With this new awareness, many ancient heritages have been preserved in the museum. Started by Dutch scholars real museums were built to preserve the rich cultural heritage of Bali. Below are some museums so far have been built in Bali

museumModern Museum

Bali has many museums which are mostly found in Denpasar city and Ubud. Only some are in the city of Singaraja, and Klungkung or Semarapura. Most of them are specific museums such as paintings on Ubud, Batuan or Kamasan style, carving style, personal created style and others. Museum Bali is an ethnographic collections from pre-history up to the unique aspects of this decade of Balinese life. The establishment of a museum was recorded that as already discussed in 1910. Since the end of 19th century the city of Singaraja, north Bali was already colonized by the Dutch, unlike south and east Bali which were remind independence kingdoms until first quarter of 20th century. Although as independence kingdoms south Bali attracted so many artists, archaeologists, anthropologists, and journalists who introduced the uniqueness of the island to the world. The news spreaded quickly encouraging the influx of tourists from Europe to Bali facilitated by the ship called K.P.M.

The visit of tourists beside giving economic advantages, it gives worrying impact on the outflow of historical heritages such as old carvings, old artifacts and even important historical materials from Bali. This situation arising serious concern among informal leaders and art and historic researchers on Bali. Dutch residence Assistant in Singaraja Mr. W.F.I. Kroon ordered a German architect Curt Grundler to co-operate with Balinese traditional architect called "undagi" to plan a pavilion for place to preserve the cultural heritages. Those undagis were I Gst Kt. Gede Kandel from Abasan village, and I Gst Ketut Rai from Belong village, Sanur. During the construction they faced natural catastrophe, the eruption of Mt. Batur in 1917 which was proceeded by big quake that damaged some parts of the construction. Only in 1925 that royal palace of Tabanan donated a pavilion, and one pavilion from Karangasem of east Bali both reflecting its own architectural style, while other part of the area was still open air. The location of the museum is on the east of Central Denpasar Square, south of Pura Jagat Nata The complex was once the area of palace of Badung kingdom.

Seven years after the construction was used as temporary exhibition, in 1932, the legal institution was inaugurated under the control of Bali museum foundation. In charge for the foundation were Dr. W.F. Stutterheim an archaeologist, Walter Spies painting artist, Dr. R. Goris an archaeologist, Ir. Th. A. Resink, and cultural observer of Bali such as I Gst Alit Ngurah and I Gst Bagus Negara. With the establishment of the foundation the steps of salvaging cultural heritages could be organized more intensively and many privates donated their collections or trusted the museum to preserve. At this time the foundation was also able to buy a pavilion with the style of north Bali architecture. So the whole complex of exhibition houses were completed after 1932. After 33 years being managed by Bali museum foundation in 1965 the museum management was transferred to the government of Republic of Indonesia, in this case Department of Education and culture. Government changed the name to museum Bali. Under management of the Department the development of physical facilities and exhibition were continually carried out until what we can see today.

Museum Bali Architecture

The whole complex of the museum zone was constructed to imitate the outline of the temple, which are is divided into 3 courtyards. The outer courtyard called jabaan directly in access to the road and city square, middle courtyard called jaba tengah, the place of staff offices and the inner courtyard called jeroan where exhibition buildings consists of 3 main Bali architectural styles are standing those are the pavilion of Tabanan, Buleleng, and Karangasem. As a whole the architecture is a combination between palace and temple.

Tabanan Pavilion

In the area of this pavilion can be seen a bathing place, an imitation of palace of Bali enclosed by wall, called pasiraman, while if it is a temple this housed water is normally a spring and is called beji. The shape of Tabanan pavilion is like a meru, a superimposed roofs looks like Thai pagoda. Wall is constructed with red bricks a typical Bali style with palm fibre for roof. The pavilion has 2 floors, all dedicated for exhibition. On first floor can be found collection of Barong masks, there are around 6 types of Barong masks, and all dances using those masks are still performed on certain occasion the head of Rangda, a figure also performed as part of Barong dance, various Wayang puppet figures, rituals materials, and headdress of some dancers such as Jauk, patih, king, and others. Also exhibited long two sided sharpened blade called kris, Balinese sword called pedang, areca nut crackers, spear head, and death ritual knife. On the second floor also exhibited head of some type of Barongs, and a Rangda, traditional music called rebab, bamboo music called angklung and rindik or tingklik, gangsa a pentatonic melody made of metal. A unique pantomime of Barong Landung, a couple of human bursts made of bamboo woven and dressed. The man with black color, and the woman white. The fairy tale is connected with the last Balinese king of Astasura, recorded as last ruler of Bali who defeated by Majapahit kingdom in 1343. The king was by various archaeological indication married Chinese Princess from Chung dynasty. The main heritages from this ruler can be seen at the temple of Balingkang near Kintamani, where there are Hindu and Chinese temple in a complex, and at the tour of Kintamani has been living Chinese community from Immemorial time whose bigger part of them had intermarried with the local.

Karangasem Pavilion

In the shape of long pavilion a special structure in Balinese architecture for a meeting to important religious or traditional leaders. This pavilion is called balairung or penangkilan. This pavilion is the first construction of the museum started in 1910, and due to eruption was only completed in 1925. The decoration presented at the outside is already influenced by Western elements such as a sculpture with hat, sitting with right leg bending rest on left leg, a demon sculpture brings pistol, and 2 canons with Chinese decor. On the lower terrace standing sculptures of stone made in 16th century, such as musicians and mother with bare breast mathernize her child. Also symbolic freedom sculptures made in 13 - 15th century which is known as bhatara/bhatari. The freedom means he soul is free of senses which is sometimes misinterpretation as "moksa"

In short the collection in this pavilion is prehistory and religious rites. Important prehistoric collection are hand axes originated around 15.000 years BC found at Sembiran village, and Trunyan.Also spear head like tools found in Selonding cape at Nusa Dua which is believed as he typical tools as the typical tools of hunter era of 4.000 BC. Various tools from the era of megalith such as various stone axes, vases, shoe axes, dagger, bronze bracelets, earrings, finger rings and cornelian jeweleries. Stone sarcophagi for coffin which were unearthed associated with earthen wares, bronze accessories with simple decoration of mostly geometric styles.

Here can be seen what is the difference between Bali writing in the year of 1180 AD and writing of today. The writing was issued by king Jayapangus printed on copper plate. Modern Bali writing describing the story of Bharatayudha with its comic version called prasi for illiterate, all are written on palm leaves.

Various types of bronze sculptures made between 13 to 16th century can also be seen at this pavilion. Some types of coins such as Chinese bronze coins, silver coins and gold coins. This is a proof that Balinese has also introduced money as means of trade in the past. Ceramic collection also present from Europe, China, and Thailand. The oldest porcelain was from China in various shapes, such as from Tang, Sung, Yuan, Ming and Ching dynasties while porcelain from Europe is much later period ca. 19th century.

Priest's tools used during their ritual are also exhibited such as baki ( bowl ), tripada ( tripod ), swamba ( water container ), genta ( bell ), sangku ( holy water container ), pengenian ( fire base 0, and others. Various symbols used during rituals as temple ceremonies can also be seen such as pratima ( god symbols ), pralingga ( seat of symbols ), mounts, and others. All those symbols are used as medium for worship. An interesting pictures on canvas is hung on the wall depicting the forecast of star influence on birth of a person, a Balinese traditional astrology. The materials of the color are made of local sources and process which was still continued by some artists in the village of Kamasan south of Klungkung city, among them are red stone, carosine light reside for black color, and others.

The last collection worth seeing are the materials of 2 ritualistic activities such as ngaben and cutting ( trimming ) of teeth, and wedding ceremony. The activities are presented in simple mock up wooden sculptures and construction.

Buleleng Pavilion

Buleleng is the name of north Bali area under administration of Kabupaten Buleleng government with capital city of Singaraja. During early independence, Singaraja was as the seat of the governor of Nusa Tenggara province consisting of Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Timor, Sumba, and Flores. In the field of construction art, north Bali has slight uniqueness compared with the rest of Bali. immediately on the entrance of the pavilion are seen standing fat sculptures facing each other known as Ote. These sculptures reminds us of strong influence of laughing Buddha found in Thailand. Beside this also a simple canon, sculpture of woman with more then a dozen children a myth known in Bali as "Men Brayut" ( Brayut Mother ), a sculpture of Shinta the princess mentioned on Ramayana Epic. On 2 doors is notable of north Bali decoration which is more stiff and striking colors, suitable with the spirit of people on north Bali. At the front of the door standing 2 women sculptures holding fire base and holy water bowl. Symbolically before entering a temple one will be sprayed with holy water as the symbol of purification.

As soon as one already in the room of exhibition the first vitrine shows various type of sculptures made of clay, stone, wood, elephant's tusk, bone and coconut shell. These sculptures are arranged according to its development. In other vitrine are various clay sculptures which was before believed as the guardian spirit to avoid harm and danger. Traditional roof top with decoration called "dore" and a traditional Balinese soldier with shield and kris arm. A Cili sculpture, as symbol of fertility which the world known as Venus a tradition for a house wife, after cooking to offer nether world with a bit cooking known as "ngejot" which is probably came from animist tradition. Big demonic terra cotta sculptures are standing on the side of the vitrine which can be found on left and right sides of temple main gate as the guardian known as "dwara pala" It was most probable the style inspired by Tantric scholl that ever developed in Bali around 13th century. A vitrine full with primitive style sculptures such as Garuda bird, king Rahwana in black, relief of Bima and some new terra cotta Venus and candle holders created by people of Pejaten village. Again at 3rd vitrine a simple styled sculptures of the myth of Wishnu transforming himself into a pig to salvage the world from destruction known as Waraha Avatar. Also sculpture of woman with 18 children named Men Brayut as mentioned at the beginning of this pavilion still can be seen here. A priest holding cane with his student, which style is also simple. The 4th vitrine also exhibit simple styled sculpture which was inspired also by Trantric thought.

Next vitrine exhibits the works spirited by magic thought which is a clear influence of Tantric school. Although in practice this thought has long been discarded, but in the work of art and practice of a Pedanda ( Shivaitic priest ) is still can be seen. A collection of new art style of sculpture with elongated style and flexible body which was developed by Nyoman Nyana from Mas village. The material is an expensive wood known as crocodile wood, due to its skin resemble the skin of crocodile, very solid, clear white yellowish and if sanded finely can reflecting. Next vitrine can be seen naturalist school of sculpture art in Bali. All new art is purely decoration, no relation with religious ritual.

On the south eastern end of the museum complex there are 3 modern buildings functioned as temporary exhibition, laboratory, and office. These buildings shows that the exterior decorated with Bali traditional art and the interior is modern.

From : Mengenal Beberapa Museum di Bali, Proyek Pengembangan Permuseuman Bali, Directorat Jendral Kebudayaan, Departement Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan, 198/82

Garis Bali

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Bali Ethnography Museum
Gunarsa Art Museum
Le Mayeur Art Museum
Puri Lukisan Art Museum


Among various tour packages and tour options in Bali there are some tours which can be said always on the publications and interest a large part of travellers to Bali. Kintamani mountain tour sits at the first number as the most popular sightseeing tour, second is Taman Ayun and Tanah Lot tour, third is Uluwatu temple tour.