Balitraveldiary.com – One that makes the name of Bali famous throughout the world is the creativity of its artists, not least in the field of painting (both modern and traditional). Therefore, no wonder in various corners found painting museums. One of them is the Puri Lukisan Museum. The museum which is located on Jalan Raya Ubud, Gianyar, and is about 40 minutes drive from Denpasar is the oldest painting museum in Bali.
The establishment of the Puri Lukisan Museum began with concerns about cultural impoverishment in Bali. The works of painters from the Island of the Gods have gained international recognition since the beginning of the 20th century. Since a few decades ago, the works of these painters have spread to various parts of the world as souvenirs for tourists. This makes the peculiarities of Balinese paintings feared to be lost and hard to find in the future.
This thought led to initiatives from several figures to establish an association of artists named Pitamaha in 1936. The artists who founded Pitamaha included Tjokorda Gde Agung Sukawati (King of Ubud), Walter Spies (German painter, 1895-1942), and Rudolf Bonnet (Dutch painter, 1895-1978). The mission carried by this association is to preserve and develop Balinese art, both traditional and modern. At the beginning of its existence, the association’s activities included an exhibition to introduce the work of its members, which reached 125 artists to an international audience.
Over time, this organization experienced ups and downs. One of the crisis periods experienced by this organization was due to the influence of World War II. At that time, the artists began to feel the need for a museum. In 1953 a new organization was formed called the Ratna Wartha Foundation. This foundation essentially continues the ideas that had been sparked by Pitamaha. Through the Ratna Wartha Foundation, the idea to establish a Bali art museum began to be realized with the design of the Puri Lukisan Museum.
The first stone marking the construction was carried out by Prime Minister Ali Sastroamidjojo on January 31, 1954. The museum was later inaugurated by the Minister of Education and Culture, Mohammad Yamin, on January 31, 1956. At that time, Tjokorda Gde Agung Sukawati became director of the museum while Rudolf Bonnet acted as a curator. Museum collections are artists’ contributions. In addition, there are also collections that are purchased whose funds come from donations.
The museum’s collection is broadly divided into several categories, namely puppet kamasan paintings, wood carvings, paintings by Pitamaha members, paintings by I Gusti Nyoman Lempad, and modern era Balinese paintings. These collections are exhibited in four galleries. The four galleries are Pitamaha Gallery (Balinese paintings between 1930-1945 and I Gusti Nyoman Lempad), Ida Bagus Made Gallery (Balinese paintings of 1945-present and Ida Bagus Made paintings), Wayang Gallery (Balinese paintings of 1945-present and painting wayang kamasan), while the fourth gallery displays historical information of the founders of the Puri Lukisan Museum.