Sunday, September 2, 2012

Bank Negara Malaysia Museum and Art Gallery

Think of putting the Metropolitan Museum of Manila and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas in a new glass-and-steel building. That's what Bank Negara Muzium dan Galeri Seni is, for me at least. There are six galleries, of which two were open during our visit: Art Gallery and Numismatics Gallery. There may be no gold collection to gawk at, but it's well worth a visit.The building is an artwork in itself.


BNM feels like it's in the middle of nowhere even if it's very close to Dataran Merdeka. There are good views of the forested hills from the Art Gallery.

The current exhibition at the Art Gallery, Then and Now: 50th Anniversary of the Bank Negara Malaysia Collection, is on view until September 19. There is no catalogue, but the bookmark at reception has colored symbols showing the chronology of the artworks.

But the most interesting pieces for me were not the paintings but the collection of money from the Japanese occupation. I don't recall seeing World War II-era money before, so bills from one centavo to 1,000 pesos fascinated me despite the horrors of that time. 

The Numismatics Gallery also has a display of money from all over the world (woefully missing the Philippine Peso) and a display of coins, which has the most number of projectors I've seen used for a single museum display (at least 20).

There is also a reasonably priced cafe at the ground floor with a wide selection of food and drinks. The museum shop is nowhere as good as the Islamic Art Museum, though. 

It's next to impossible to commute here but drop by on a weekend for a pleasantly peaceful hour or two in the heart of the city.

Bank Negara Malaysia Museum and Art Gallery, Sasana Kijang
2 Jln Dato Onn, 50480 Kuala Lumpur
Open daily 10am-6pm
Admission is free