By Abdeladhim Bouafia
Located in front of the Negara mosque in Kuala Lumpur, the Islamic Arts Museum is a must-see for arts lovers visiting Malaysia’s capital. Officially opened on December 12, 1998, it houses 12 main galleries and is widely thought of as one of the top museums in Malaysia, if not all of Southeast Asia.
It is easy to pass a day (or even two) here. There are all kinds of exhibitions to pique your interest, such as the museum of Islamic architecture, which includes miniature models of some famous Islamic buildings, reflecting the architecture of the Arabic civilization through the years.
The models in the museum are very realistic. Don’t be surprised if you find the models of the Taj Mahal or the Imam Ismail Albukhary mosque incredibly similar to the real ones. However, don’t spend all your time on the models, the museum itself is a sight to behold. As you walk its halls, you will find the beautiful domes and fountains as fascinating as the exhibits themselves.
There is also a section of the museum dedicated to ancient Ottoman Empire monuments. The exhibition also includes a large number of artefacts from the Ottoman Empire that were brought from Syria and Turkey to Malaysia. These artefacts are considered particularly rare and precious and give a unique insight into how people lived at that time.
Of course, the artefacts at the museum came from a number of locations in the Islamic world over the centuries such as India, China and Malay and jewellery, arms, textiles, woodwork, coins, ceramics and more.
The museum also brought the sword of the prophet of Islam Mohamed from Turkey for a three-month exhibit. This is one of the many items that have passed through Kuala Lumpur’s Islamic Arts Museum that have earned it a deserved reputation as one of the best museums in the region. There is also a special area dedicated to the Quran, which includes more than 200 rare Islamic manuscripts and 30 copies of the Holy Quran.
It’s easy to build up an appetite while wandering the rooms packed with Islamic art and history, and there are no shortage of eateries where you can enjoy some delicious Arabic food. These are located on the first floor, with the restaurant of Egyptian chef Ayman a big draw. The helpful Ayman has been serving up tasty food at the museum for many years in his family-friendly restaurant. All the Middle Eastern favourites are on the menu, including hummus, tahini, and falafel.
After a delicious meal there is no better energy boost than some Turkish coffee. Famed for its bold and rich taste, this coffee has even earned its own proverb in Turkey: “Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love.” The proverb speaks for itself. If you try it, be sure to complement you coffee with some Arabic cookies or candies.
The Islamic Arts Museum has something for everyone and how it appeals to you will very much depend on your hobbies and your interests. History buffs, arts lovers and foodies, they will all find something here. It’s easy to spend a day or two here, but at the very least devote a morning or afternoon to discovering this fascinating museum.
Where is it?
Jalan Lembah Perdana,
Tel: +603 2274 2020
Opening hours: The museum is open from 10am – 6pm, seven days a week.
Admission: Adults RM12.00; Students RM6.00; Senior Citizens RM6.00; Children FREE
(6 and under).
If you enjoyed this article and would like to find out more about travelling to Malaysia, please visit the Tourism Malaysia website
Abdeladhim Bouafia (Algeria)
Abdeladhim Bouafia is a professional content writer in several domains especially in travel, nature and cultural essays. He has a bachelors degree from the university in languages studies and publishes his work online here: travel4arabs.blogspot.com.