Off the Western tourist route: Kuala Lumpur’s amazing Islamic arts museum

On the edge of the centre of Kuala Lumpur – a city dominated by huge skyscrapers and apartment blocks – near the greenery of Lakeside Gardens is a modern museum dedicated to Islamic Art.

Ornate metalwork at the museum
Two huge metal candlesticks
Stunning costumes and textiles from India

The Islamic Arts Museum opened as recently as 1998 is not on Cunard’s shore experience programme and consequently has few Western visitors.But this is not a local or even a Malaysian national museum but an important international one.

It has over 12000 artefacts, a large reference library and tells the story of the spread of Islam from the Middle East across Asia and China through Islamic Art.Missing are artefacts from Spain after it was occupied by the Moors.

The collection is impressive. It covers metalwork,ceramics,textiles,jewellery,weaponry, manuscripts, China and furniture.

A 16th century illustrated Koran

With 12 galleries it is almost too much to take in but it also a very cool Restuarant and Cafe to have lunch and a break. What is fascinating is how Islamic art adapted from Turkish carpets to delicate China through a rather extravagant costumes in India.

One of the most intricate China pieces in the museum

There was also an interesting collection of weaponry including heavily decorated rifles as illustrated below.

Malayan rifles

Textiles and ceramics were well represented.

Examples of ceramics

The light and airy building makes the museum pleasant visit especially as Kuala Lumpur has very high humidity and temperatures often top 33C.

Batik carpet

One thought on “Off the Western tourist route: Kuala Lumpur’s amazing Islamic arts museum

  1. This is such an interesting commentary David. It is easy to stick to the recommendations but here is a great example of the magnificence that need just a little effort to find. Thank you 🙏


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