You could describe Art House Gallery Museum Of Ethnic Arts as a commercial art gallery with a mini-museum of folk and ethnic art attached.
The permanent exhibits of the privately-owned mini-museum are sourced from Borneo and are the personal collection and passion of the gallery’s owner Mr. Leonard Yiu who has built up this treasure trove of mystical objects over 20 years of travel through Sarawak, Sabah, Kalimantan and beyond.
The museum is small, taking up about a third of the gallery’s total floor area, but this superb collection is probably the finest display of Sarawak tribal art found anywhere in Malaysia, including the Sarawak State Museum in Kuching.
If you are fortunate enough to visit the mini-museum when Mr. Yiu is present he may give you a personal guided tour and explain the background and significance to these unique and irreplaceable artefacts. He told me that the highly superstitious tribes of Sarawak seldom produce their beautiful works for art’s sake alone and that every item has its own meaning and purpose - to ward off evil, placate the spirits, give thanks for good harvests and so on.
Mr. Yiu is an eloquent speaker and an expert on his topic. He is writing a book to be published soon in which he will catalogue many of the items in his collection. In common with tribal cultures all over the world, knowledge of Sarawak’s traditional heritage is fading among the younger generation and Mr. Yiu’s collection is helping to preserve the past.
Needless to say, the contents of the mini-museum are not for sale. However all the other items in the gallery are on sale and these include rare and unusual items from Borneo, some of the neighbouring Indonesian islands and other nearby countries.
The shop also sells paintings, ornaments, furniture, handicrafts, Buddhist iconography and collectables from other parts of Malaysia, Tibet, Myanmar, Indonesia, China, Thailand and elsewhere. Mr. Yiu has a good eye for art and everything in the gallery is, in my opinion, tasteful and desirable.
Open daily from 11am - 7pm.
Whether you are looking for some fine pieces to decorate your home or you are just interested in the ethnic arts of Borneo, this place should be the highlight of any trip to Central Market. It has been described as the best antique shop cum art gallery in town and I would have to agree with that.
I have marked the exact location on this map (click on the View Larger Map symbol in the top right corner to expand the map):
Art House Gallery
Lot 3.04 & 3.05, Level 2
Annexe Building, Central Market
10, Jalan Hang Kasturi,
50050 Kuala Lumpur.
They have another gallery in Wisma Cosway, concentrating on Chinese ink and colour painting:
Art House Gallery
Lot 2.39-2.42, 2nd Floor,
Jalan Raja Chulan,
50200 Kuala Lumpur,
You can see more photos and information on the gallery’s Facebook page.
Take a look at my Chinatown Walking Tour page for a suggested itinerary covering many of the nearby attractions.