I am a huge fan of local art, and make a point of visiting as many art markets and museums as I can whenever I travel to a new part of the world. One of the highlights of my trip to Ubud, Bali was the huge variety and number of art museums that this bustling culture and art centre has to offer. Without doubt the most magnificent of these museums is The Blanco Art Museum in central Ubud.
Blanco, arguably the most famous and successful artist to ever live in Bali, built his magnificent studio on top of a mountain overlooking the Campuan River. Blanco travelled extensively throughout the world before finally landing in Bali in 1952. The King of Ubud gave Blanco a piece of land to set up his home and studio in Campuan, Ubud, at the meeting point of two sacred rivers. Blanco and his Balinese wife, the celebrated dancer Ni Ronji, lived in their mountain retreat, barely leaving it for the world outside. Living in serene surroundings with his four children, Bali became Blanco’s serene home. He was fascinated by the island and completely captivated by its charm and the unique forms of artistic expression he found inherent in the local culture
This flamboyant building, a unique blend of Balinese architecture and imbued with Blanco’s eccentric personality, features a menagerie with birds and animals, huge lawns, stunning fountains and houses an interesting collection of art works drawn from different periods of his long career. The color splashed across his canvasses is certainly represented in the design of his estate and is well worth a visit
Wondering around the grounds and gallery with a belly full of the unique and delicious food available at the on site restaurant, I couldn’t help but be slightly overawed by this larger than life figure. Don Antonio Blanco’s reportedly eccentric personality definitely seems to imbue the Museum with his offbeat energy and makes for an interesting viewing experience. It was hard to tell just what part of the world I was in, not quite Bali, not quite Europe, it almost felt like I was in a utterly unique part of the world, neither here nor there. Somehow I got the feeling I was standing somewhere utterly unique, a place I would never find the likes of anywhere else in the world!
Blanco lived and worked in his magical hilltop home until his death in 1999.
Transportation to the Blanco Museum
The Blanco Museum is not along any public transportation routes, so you’ll need to hire a car or a motorcycle (ojek) to take you there. Car hires can be found at central Ubud (look for the yellow E circle that designates a member of the Ubud Transport Association), and you can haggle your price down to about IDR 20,000 ($2) for a short trip to the museum and back, with the driver waiting for you as you finish your visit.
If you book an Ubud hotel or villa, you’re likely to enjoy shuttle rides from your hotel/villa to the museum and back.
An entrance fee of IDR 50,000 (about $5) will be charged upon entry to the Blanco Museum.
(smaller photos from “our man on the ground”, Nana Artana who visited the museum recently. Nana does custom tours in Bali)
Address: Jalan Raya Campuhan, Kedewatan, Ubud
Location: 8°30’21.4452″S 115°15’14.819″E (Google Maps)
Phone: +62 361 975502 or +62 361 975551