Art Lover’s Haven – Best Museums and Galleries to Visit in Macao
A tiny peninsula in the western Pearl River Delta, Macao is a unique fusion of East and West. It was the first ever Asian region to become a European colony and the last one to gain independence. This 442 years of colonial rule, combined with the strong influence of Chinese culture, gave birth to a city rich in blended arts, architecture, culture and history.
The result? Macao is today as much a haven for art and history lovers as it is for luxury and adventure seekers.
Here, we list down some galleries and museums that you ought to visit on your next trip to Macao
The Sound of the Century – The Museum of Vintage Sound Machines houses 2000 pieces of antique sound and video equipment from the last century.
Here one can find on exhibit gramophones and phonographs that play original cylinders and records, hand-cranked music boxes, cash machines, manual telephones and tube radios.
It’s truly a music aficionado’s refuge. However, make sure you book a visit here in advance because it is strictly by appointment only.
Walking along the Avenida da Praia in Taipa, Macao, one gets to experience the history, culture, art and creativity of Macao; thanks to this colony of five houses called the Taipa Houses.
These five pastel-coloured residences were once home to Portuguese civil servants and some of the wealthiest Macanese of yore. Today, they have been converted into a museum, exhibition houses and a venue for official banquets and receptions. Each house has a different name and purpose.
If you want a glimpse of Macao, before the Portuguese landed here, head to the Macao Museum located on the Mount Fortress on top of the Mount Hill.
This museum has three floors full of displays exhibiting the way of life and cultures of the various communities that inhabited the city for ages.
While on its first floor, you’ll find the way of life, commercial activities, religion and cultures of pre-colonial Chinese and Western civilization on display, the second floor will give you a peek into the daily lives, entertainment, religious ceremonies and traditional festivals of the Macanese. The third floor covers the contemporary art and literature and the characteristic aspects of city life.
The Maritime museum is located on the square of the Barra Pagoda, dedicated to Goddess A-Ma and the place where the Portuguese first landed in Macao.
It is built in the shape of a sailing ship anchored in the Inner Harbour. In this place, you’ll learn everything about the naval aspect of Macao. Right from the traditions and way of life of fishermen in Macao and South China, the different varieties of fish living in these waters, instruments, methods of fishing to the latest maritime technology and transport, latest ships of Macao- the entire Macanese maritime story is on display here.
One interesting and engaging installation is the view of the sky in its top floor where you can find different constellations, including the one representing you.
Macao Museum of Art
It is the largest museum in Macao dedicated to visual arts. Boasting of seven different exhibition galleries on five floors, it has on display historical and contemporary works from Macao, Southern China and the world.
From Chinese calligraphy and ceramics to Western paintings and European prints of Macao’s scenery to temporary exhibitions of present day artists of Macao and from all around the world; the Museum of Art is truly a paradise for art fanatics.
It also has an auditorium, a library with many art-related books and international films that can be viewed in a visual room, and a workshop.
Tap Seac gallery
This is a 4000 sq. ft. gallery promoting cultural and artistic exhibitions in Macao since 2003.
The building in itself is something to be admired. It is a quaint, red and yellow, 1920s baroque mansion with Moorish touches. Inside, it has two wells and a patio in the centre which in daylight, gives a unique dimension to exhibitions and displays.
Apart from international exhibitions, presentations, educational and research projects and expositions; the Tap Seac Gallery also hosts the annual Macau Visual Arts Exhibition every summer. It displays the work of around sixty local artists chosen by an expert panel.
Macao Tea Culture House
This is a yellow and white, Portuguese-style building with Southern European elements and a Chinese tiled roof, surrounded by the Suzhou-inspired landscape of Lou Lim Ieoc Garden.
The Macao Tea Culture House has on display antique teapots, cups, historical and contemporary artworks related to tea, the history of tea trade and the Chinese traditions of tea drinking.
It also runs monthly lectures on tea culture and regularly holds tasting evenings focused on specific types of tea.
Museum of Sacred Art and Crypt
This is a treasure trove of historical and religious relics. The museum and the crypt are built in the inner area of the Ruins of St Pauls, the only above-the-ground part of the 17th century Catholic religious complex that was spared from the ravages of the typhoon in 1835.
The crypt houses a granite tomb thought to belonging to the founder of St Paul’s College and Church, and the bones of Vietnamese and Japanese martyrs.
On the other hand, the Museum puts on display objects of high historical and artistic value from different churches and convents of Macao. Among other things that survived the fire, which consumed the complex, the museum has managed to excavate and restore four sacred paintings about St. Francis, crucifixes, religious statues and liturgical vessels.
Museum of the Holy House of Mercy
This pristine white structure on Senado Square that looks more like a palace is a UNESCO world heritage site.
It was reopened to the public in 2001 and the museum now exhibits precious objects bearing testimony to the history of Western culture and religion in Macao.
You’ll see here ancient manuscripts, ivory statues, oil portraits, and Japanese and European ceramics among other Catholic relics of Macao.
After glancing the collection, you can sit on the alluring colonnaded balcony of the second floor and enjoy one of the best, yet lesser-known, views of Senado Square below.
As you can see, contrary to popular notion, Macao is also a treasure trove of memories, art and history. Apart from all the fun, relaxation and adventure, you will also get to enjoy a great cultural and historical immersion on your next holiday in Macao.
Which galleries and museums are you planning to cover on your next trip to Macao? Let us know in the comments section.