In the midst of Denpasar’s busying streets, amongst the bustle of markets and the whiz of local commerce, Taman Werdhi Budaya Art Centre — often referred to as Bali Art Centre or Taman Budaya Bali— stands as a beacon of heritage. This impressive space is home to an art museum, several theatres or amphitheatres and exhibition spaces, all woven together by Balinese architecture and classical garden spaces.
Taman Werdhi Budaya Art Centre was opened by Bali’s 5th Governor, Ida Bagus Mantra (in office: 1978-1988), who was strongly committed to celebrating and preserving Bali’s cultural heritage. It was Ida Bagus Mantra who also founded the Bali Arts Festival (Pesta Kesenian Bali) in 1979, which is why the festival is held at the art centre every year.
Music & Theatre
Encompassing 5 hectares of land in the heart of Denpasar, not far from Bali’s Bajra Sandhi Monument, the Art Centre aims to showcase what makes Bali… Bali! This is done by creating spaces that present different aspects of the island’s cultural heritage, the island’s creative and artistic soul. Thus, music, art, dance and theatre are all celebrated here.
The theatres and amphitheatres are the most impressive buildings of the centre, grand and majestic in design, they make for the perfect backdrop to any cultural performance. Whilst there are small amphitheatres dotted around the compound, the most grand of all is the Gedung Ksirarnawa, a stadium-like theatre with a stunning Padmasana temple structure as its backdrop. This is normally the main stage for The Bali Arts Festival.
Such spaces are often used for events and so visiting the centre whilst there is no event on may be a bit of an anti-climax, except for seeing the empty spaces, still impressive in themselves of course.
The Art Museum at Taman Werdhi Budaya Art Centre
Probably one of Bali’s most underrated museums, in terms of its collection, is found within ‘Mahudara Mandara Giri Bhuvana’ Main Exhibition Hall. This grand two-story building has a stunning façade, with a lotus pond (Bale Kambang area) on one side and a carved staircase at its entrance, welcoming you to the start of the exhibition.
This is a permanent exhibition space featuring paintings, sculptures and artefacts from some of Bali’s most well-known artists in history. In honestly, the exhibition space is relatively well maintained inside, but the information here is very limited which may result in an average experience. The collection itself is impressive, however.
In the first room (upstairs) you will find a collection from Bali’s traditional paintings, including original Kamasan paintings by I Nyoman Mandra (famous artist from Klungkung who worked on the restoration of the Kertagosa Pavillion, Klungkung). The collection then shows examples from Bali’s ‘modern traditional’ era, including art from Bali’s Batuan, Ubud and Young Artist schools. This room is also home to four costumes, including three Barong costumes and one rangda costume.
Rooms two and three showcase sculptures, carvings and handicrafts of various materials, as well as the Barong Landung of Balinese lore. A small side section of room three (ground floor) features five pieces of the legendary I Nyoman Lempad, a Balinese architect and artist, whose famous ink drawings on Chinese paper can be seen.
The final room shows a collection of high-quality modern paintings , including works by I Nyoman Gunarsa and an amazing piece by I Gusti Ngurah Gede Pemecutan, a fingerprint painting depicting an emotive Kecak Dance scene.
Another art space is found at the Krya Sembrani Occihcrawa building, which was made as a changing space, to give new artists the opportunity to feature their work.
The Sacred Area (Kawasan Suci) and Library
On top of being a cultural destination, Taman Budaya Bali is also home to holy sites, including a Puri Taman Beji temple where employees and neighbouring communities will conduct their prayers. There is also a Bale Selonding where ceremony preparations take place
Finally, in a ‘quiet area’ of the centre you will find the Widya Kusuma Library. The philosophy of this building is explained as ‘knowledge is like a flower’, pertaining to the Balinese belief that knowledge is protection and power for the mind. Here, on the second floor, a collection of cultural and historical books are kept for reference, many of which centre on the arts. On the first floor a reading area is kept open for visitors.
Entry price to Taman Budaya Bali is IDR 25.000 for locals and IDR 50.000 for foreigners
The opening hours of the art centre are:
Monday – Thursday: 7.30am – 3.30pm
Friday: 7.30am – 1pm
Saturday: 7.30 – 3.30pm
Sunday : Closed
If the Bali Arts Festival or other events are taking place, it may remain open until 10pm, but all times are subject to changes through the pandemic.
Taman Werdhi Budaya Art Center
Jl. Nusa Indah No.1, Panjer, Denpasar Selatan, Kota Denpasar, Bali 80236