Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia: Immerse Yourself In The Beauty of Islamic Art In KL


Aishah •  Dec 27, 2019

[Updated 7 August 2021]

When planning a trip to Kuala Lumpur, visiting the local museum might not rank high on many traveller's lists. Overshadowed by major attractions such as Petronas Twin Towers, KL Bird Park, and Bukit Bintang, there are many things to do in Kuala Lumpur. Besides being a capital city peppered with shopping malls, secret attractions and delicious halal eateries, Kuala Lumpur is also home to a number of interesting museums that are often overlooked by tourists.

Situated in the heart of Kuala Lumpur amidst the lush greenery of Perdana Botanical Gardens, the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia is home to one of the best collections of Islamic decorative arts in the world. Even if you're not a fan of museum, you'll have a great time and leave this museum more informed about Islam as well as its history and culture in various parts of the world - a rich and rewarding experience all in all.

Getting here

  • Taxi: Take the taxi or book a Grab ride to the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (Muzium Kesenian Islam). The approximate rate is RM18-RM22 (one-way) from Kuala Lumpur City Centre.
  • Train: Alight at MRT Muzium Negara (exit at entrance B) and take an 8-minute walk to the museum.  If you have a problem finding your way, look for the National Mosque of Malaysia (Masjid Negara) and the museum is next to it.

Opened in 1988, the Islamic Arts Museum is a stunning feat of architecture occupying 30,000 square metres of land. The building is purposely constructed in a modern open-plan layout to create a seamless flow and experience throughout the museum. It's also decorated with glass walls to allow plenty of natural light to shine through.

Step into the museum and you'll notice the beautifully decorated ceiling domes that dominate the museum's interior. While taking pictures of the museum's interior, don't forget to look up! The space itself is brimming with eye-catching architectural wonders.

Housing thousands of artefacts, the museum aims to create a collection that truly represents the Islamic world. It also shines the spotlight on artworks and artefacts in Asia, specifically China and Southeast Asia. The exhibits are divided into 12 galleries, including Architecture, Qur'an and Manuscript, Malay World, and Jewellery. What's unique about this museum is the absence of spatial division between the galleries. As a result, there is a sense of continuity to one's exhibition experience to the next.

There are a number of notable artefacts at this museum. Head over to the Qur'an and Manuscript Gallery to see the Kiswa, the door curtain of the Kaaba, which is changed annually. You can get up close to see the intricate hand embroidery of the verses and designs on this Kiswa.

Credit: Alex Keshavjee on Flickr

This gallery also boasts an amazing display of Quranic books and fragments that are just aesthetically pleasing to both the eyes and the soul. Feast your eyes on the mesmerising Kufic calligraphy and lavishly decorated pages of the Qur'an dated as early as the 10th century! The Qu'ran was meticulously hand-crafted that it's hard not to be in awe of the dedication and attention to detail.

Another highlight is the Architecture Gallery, a crowd favourite! Explore the exhibits to see a range of architectural ornaments, such as tiles and carvings, to the delightfully-detailed models of significant Islamic buildings. Check out miniatures of major mosques in Islamic history such as the Masjid al-Haram (one of the mosque's largest scale models in the world), the Great Umayyad Mosque, the Taj Mahal and the Court of the Lions, and Alhambra - just to name a few.

The experience might not have the same reverence as to physically seeing the edifice in all its glory, but you can purchase the architectural models from around the world at various time in history around RM15 per model.

The Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia also organises a series of talks and programmes from time to time. Recently, an international conference on mosque architecture was conducted with distinguished speakers and world-renowned experts taking part in the event.

As a family-friendly attraction, the museum also hosts many activities suited for both children and adults. There are artefact painting and glass painting for the kids to participate. You can also practice calligraphy skills at the Arabic calligraphy class or join other art workshops at affordable prices!

If you're hungry, dine at the MOZA Restaurant! Specialising in Middle Eastern cuisine, the restaurant is decked out in a Moroccan-inspired decor. The signature dishes include flavourful lentil Shorbat Adas soup, hearty Meditteranean pizza and succulent Jordanian-style Dejaj Mousakhan. Wrap up your experience with the chef's recommended dessert, Omm Ali, a home-baked Egyptian-style of bread pudding.

Now that you've read this article, we hope you'll drop by the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia during your next trip to Kuala Lumpur! We've explored the museum ourselves and found it to be an enlightening experience that's definitely worth a second visit. We hope you'll feel the same way after visiting this museum.

#HHWTTip: KL Bird Park, KL Butterfly Park, the Perdana Botanical Garden, the National Mosque and the National Museum are within walking distance from the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia. Set aside an afternoon to visit these attractions in Kuala Lumpur!

Opening hours:

  • Open daily; 9.30AM-6PM (museum galleries and shop)
  • Open daily; 10AM-5PM (MOZA Restaurant)

Address: Jalan Lembah Perdana, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Contact: +603 2092 7070 / +603 2274 2020

Admission fee (per person):

  • Adult: RM14
  • Child (below 6 years old): Free
  • Student (with ID): RM7
  • Senior citizen (Malaysian over 60 years old): RM7
  • Note: When the special galleries are closed, the ticket prices are RM12 (per adult) and RM6 (per child)

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