6 Museums To Visit In South East Asia

Experiencing and immersing one’s self in a foreign culture always gives a certain sense of satisfaction and enlightenment that’s completely irreplaceable. While it’s fun to ride roller coasters or dive in the innovative attractions, there are still more to a country than just commercial crowd-pleasers. If you’re bound to leave for Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, or Singapore, we’ve picked the right places for you to begin your journey into understanding their history and culture through art. Here are 5 museums in our neighboring countries you’re sure to enjoy:

Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei

Built during the Japanese occupation in 1921, MOCA Taipei was then the Jiànchéng Elementary School. When Taiwan was handed over by Japan to China, the building housed the Taipei City Government. Only in 1994, when the city hall was moved to Xinyi, did the building officially became an art museum. Four years later, the museum was renamed as it is known today. The museum houses various attractions such as street art exhibits, seasonal exhibits perfect for solo travelers or even families with kids who choose to come visit the historic venue.

Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia
Photo courtesy of SilverKris

Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia

Even with Malaysia deemed as a multi-confessional country, more than 60% of its population is Muslim. The Islamic culture is reflected and well-represented in the largest Islamic Arts museum in all of Asia: the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia. Situated amongst the greeneries of Kuala Lumpur’s Lake Gardens, the museum occupies 30,000 square meters of pure Islamic culture. Immerse yourself with the tiniest piece of pieces of jewelry on display to large scale models of the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, including artifacts, books, fine art, and even textile.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Much similar to our country, Vietnam is also made up of diverse local communities and ethnicities. At the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, not only will you learn facts and trivia about the country’s ethnicities but also be immersed in their ways of life. The foundation of the museum serves functions such as research, collection, documentation, conservation, exhibition and, of course, preservation of different ethnicities’ cultures and history.

Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Indonesia (MACAN)
Photo courtesy of CNN

Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Indonesia (MACAN)

MACAN boasts 25 years of arts, history, and culture under one roof. The institution houses more than 800 artworks—from Indonesian artists to international names like Ai Weiwei, Yayoi Kusama, Andy Warhol, and Damien Hirst. What factors most with it being one of the best museums in all of Asia is the continuity of its space; despite the varying concepts and eras, each space is still fluidly interconnected with each other.

National Design Centre Singapore
Photo courtesy of AAS Architecture

National Design Centre

A place where everything design meets—the National Design Centre of Singapore is strategically located in the arts, cultural, learning, and entertainment district of the Bras Basah-Bugis area. The institution encourages businesses, local and international designers, independent companies and designers to come together to share ideas and impart each other’s knowledge through programs and exhibitions.

Museum of Contemporary Art and Design Manila

As a non-collecting institution, the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design Manila (MCAD Manila) stands out with its unique identity. The institution is home for activities that bring art and culture closer not only to its local community that is the De La Salle University-College of Saint Benilde’s School of Design and Arts but also to visitors from in and out of the country. The museum boasts high standards in curatorial and exhibition practice, all while embracing inclusion through observing “free access for all” system that embraces not only that of different social classes but also of knowledge.

Anchor photo courtesy of Arch Daily