The collection of the Museum of Asian Art has a long history, having been built up over a period of almost 50 years. The first item on record is a bronze Buddha head from Chiengsen period (1400-1550 AD), Thailand, given to the museum by Kun Krassri Nimanamhasminda in 1954. This contribution marked the beginning of the University of Malaya Art Museum at that time based in the university’s campus in Singapore. The Buddha head was thus acquired several years before the University of Malaya campus was established in Kuala Lumpur in 1962. At that time a section of the university library was used to display the artifacts. The museum’s present home was built to accommodate the increasing new acquisition. In Jun 1980, the new building was built in the scenic area between the Faculty of Economics and the Law Faculty (currently occupied by the Business and accounting Faculty). Within its three floors of exhibition space, the museum represents three civilizations; the Indian, The Chinese and the Islamic (Malay culture).
THE RARE COLLECTION
Apart from that, the extensive water vessel (kendi) collection is the largest in the world with pieces dating from the 11th century A.D. The museum also houses many rare pieces such as the Sawankhalok pottery manhunt elephant figurines products in Thailand during 14th-15th century A.D. The valuable collections of stone carvings, copper items, Malays' weaponry among others are also on display as part of the university duties to provide our beloved students and country with a message- our ancestor passing a great civilization to us.
THE THREE CIVILIZATIONS UNDER ONE ROOF
University of Malaya's Museum of Asian Art is an outstanding education-oriented museum. Located in the main campus of the university it aims to promote Asian art among multicultural Malaysians. The Museum holds nearly 7,000 treasures, representing cultures from throughout Asia, and spanning 4,000 years of Asian history. Featuring 1,500 squares feet of gallery space, the museum showcases the unique material aesthetic, and intellectual achievements of Asian art and culture, including Chinese pottery Hindu statuary, textiles from the Malay archipelago, and sacred masks of Orang Asli communities.