Islamic Arts Museum ~ Places to Visit in Kuala Lumpur
KL Visitors Guide


Carved into a hillside and surrounded by lush greenery, The Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (IAMM), the largest of its kind in South East Asia.

The Islamic Arts Museum houses more than seven thousand displays of old calligraphic scrolls, fine porcelain, impressive textiles, jewel-encrusted swords and weaponry as well as local and international Islamic oriented exhibitions.

Opened in December 1998, this four-storey building located on a plateau of sloping terrain, imparts modernity and subtle Islamic through details such as the tile work in Mo'arraq style and Kufi and Tuluth calligraphy covering the turquoise domes surfaces.

The Museum's facade is clad primarily with white marble and curved panels with features crafted by the artisans from Uzbekistan and Iran.

The main entrance is identified by the 'blue iwan', which is finished with cut blue tiles and a welcoming verse from the Quran.

Its white interiors are silent, airy and saturated with natural light, creating an atmosphere for contemplation and reflection of thoughts.

The main lobby overlooks the courtyard, several fountains, a restaurant, and a cafι.

The Islamic Arts Museum has two floors of permanent galleries, and two special galleries for temporary exhibitions. The permanent galleries spread over level 3 and 4, has 12 main sections classified according to the types of artefacts.

Located on level 3 are the exceptions; the India Gallery, China Gallery and Malay World Gallery. The aim is to create a collection that is truly representative of the Islamic world.

Rather than just concentrating on works from the heartlands of Persia and the Middle East, it also puts the emphasis on Asia, especially Southeast Asia, China and India. These three galleries serve as representations of the diversity of Islamic peoples and the multi-cultural heritage of Malaysia.

Also located on level 3 are the Architecture Gallery, the Qurans & Manuscripts Gallery and the Ottoman Room - a reconstructed interior of an Ottoman Syrian room dated 1820 - 1821 AD.

The room comprises of authentic floor tiles; intricately carved, lacquered wooden panels and chandeliers.

On level 4, the Ceramics & Glass Gallery, Metalwork Gallery, Woodwork Gallery, Arms & Armour Gallery, Jewellery Gallery, and Textiles Gallery; exhibits collections displayed thematically, according to chronology, region or technique of production.

Galleries: India / China / Malay World / Architecture / Qurans & Manuscripts
Ottoman Room

Conveying the splendour of this monumental art form is a comprehensive collection of scale models. These range from the colossal grandeur of the holiest mosque in Islam – Mecca’s Masjid al-Haram – to the more desolate beauty of Central Asian mausoleums dedicated to Timur and Amir Albukhari. Every corner of Islam is covered in miniature, including the widely overlooked mosques of China and Southeast Asia. To give a more intimate impression of these sacred spaces, the gallery includes a re-creation of a mosque interior.

Gallery provides a glimpse into the two worlds of the Mughals: public and private. There are many features of Mughal art that diverge from the Islamic mainstream. The most obvious of these is a delight in portraiture. Court life demanded an impressive array of vessels and other types of tableware. Rather than being made from ceramic, they tended to be masterpieces of the metalworker’s art.

The most distinctive works are calligraphic scrolls that take a traditional, Chinese approach. The written word is found in many other Chinese Islamic media. These include the cloisonnι wares that China started to create in quantity during the 15th century. The rich colours of the enamels make a vivid contrast to plain calligraphic belief. The same blending of cultures is evident in bronze altar vessels, originally made for traditional worship and then adapted to suit the tastes of Muslim patrons.

Malay World
Natural forms in Islamic art of Southeast Asia are conveyed as stylised plants, fruits and clouds in a wide variety of media. On textiles, these are often taken to a degree of abstraction that puts them in the realm of pure geometry. Craftsmanship in wood and metal, especially the creation of 'kris' daggers, is another tradition for which the Malay world was renowned.

Quran & Manuscripts
A large collection of Qurans, religious and secular texts from a range of provenances; namely Persia, China, India, Turkey and the Malay World are highlighted. This gallery serves to illustrate the different styles of calligraphic scripts and to provide visual examples of elaborate illumination of the Quran. The secular texts include examples of Persian marriage certificates, miniature paintings, texts on medicine and astrology as well as illuminated letters and poetry.

Galleries: Ceramics & Glass / Metalwork / Woodwork / Arms & Armour
Jewellery / Textiles

Ceramics and Glass
Influences came from many directions, mainly China, but the results are unique to the cultures that produced them. From the austerity of Nishaphur calligraphic bowls to the richness of Kashan lusterwares. Calligraphic inscriptions were used to enormous effect in a number of different techniques. The Ottoman Empire’s great contribution is Iznik ceramics. These relied little on calligraphy and a lot on bold floral designs.

This gallery provides an overview of the wide range of metalwork embellishment techniques used in the Islamic world. The gallery highlights the innovation of Islamic ornamentation and the richness of materials used in metalwork. Mostly works in brass and bronze, Islamic metalwork from Iran, Mosul, Mamluks from Egypt, and others

Finely detailed carvings, screens and windows with intricate geometric patterns, inlaid work and laquerware are featured in this gallery.

Arms & Armour
The gallery is devoted to the weapons and protective garments of medieval Islamic societies. From the Nimcha and Shamseh, curved scimitars of Arabia and Persia, to the elaborately bejewelled and gold inlaid daggers of Mughal India, the Gallery also features arm guards, shields and even a talismanic tunic inscribed with Quranic verses to be worn under armour for protection.

Displays include elaborate and opulent Indian jewellery sets made from diamonds, emeralds, rubies and pearls together with examples of more simple ethnic styles from North Africa featuring items like nose and toe rings. Jewellery from Central Asia are usually crafted from silver and set with agates, carnelians or red glass.

Textiles Gallery
Collections of complete costumes from all over the Islamic world are on show as well as some fine wall coverings and rugs. The gallery features shawls, hangings, costumes and other forms of fabric from around the Muslim world, highlighting the different materials and techniques of decorative embellishment. Examples include fine woolen Kashmir and Kirman shawls of India and Persia respectively, colourful embroidered souzanis of Bukhara, Uzbekistan and ikat coats and embroidered dhirpees of Central Asia.
Apart from the Permanent Galleries, there are two Temporary Galleries which host special exhibitions periodically. The library has over 10,000 books and manuscripts, including several rare and out-of-print editions, and serves the needs of researchers and scholars.

◊ Opening Hours - Museum Galleries & Shop > Open Daily including Public Holidays from 10am - 6pm. / Museum Restaurant > Open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10am - 6pm (Closed on Mondays)

◊ Admission Charges -
Adults RM14.00 / Students (with ID) RM7.00
Senior Citizens (Malaysian 55 and over) RM7.00
Children (6 and under) FREE
Tickets are charged at RM12 & RM6 respectively when the Special Galleries are closed.

Best Way to Visit - Take KL City Tour
A private tour that allows you to see the major landmarks of the city and its suburbs.




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