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The Museum Rudana,in Bali

Written By Rio Gonzales on Wednesday, April 18, 2012 | Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bali's long history of visiting foreign artists and collectors means that the island has quite a few notable museums. Just in the Ubud area, there are four dedicated to Balinese art—all of them excellent. The Museum Rudana, in the village of Teges, does a wonderful job of explaining the iconography of Balinese art; the Neka Art Museum has perhaps the finest, most comprehensive collection of Balinese painting, from the 17th century to the present. The Agung Rai Museum of Art, or ARMA, houses an equally impressive collection of Balinese and foreign paintings, including the only publicly exhibited canvas on the island by Walter Spies, the German artist who founded the art colony in Ubud in the 1930s. The Puri Lukisan, in the middle of Ubud village, has a fine collection of drawings by Bali's greatest artist, I Gusti Nyoman Lempad.

Bali Museums dedicated to individual artists are interesting mainly because they offer the opportunity to tour early-20th-century expat estates. Neither the Spanish painter Antonio Blanco nor the Belgian Adrien Jean Le Mayeur de Merpres was a great artist (both tended to focus their work on frolicsome, bare-breasted maidens), but they created fabulous spreads for themselves. Museum Le Mayeur retains much of the artist's original house, a traditional wooden structure with intricately carved doors, lintels, and pediments. The only entrance, charmingly, is on the beach. Blanco Renaissance Museum in Ubud is a rococo fantasy house perched on a high hill across the road from the Hotel Tjampuhan.

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