Sabah Art Gallery- A Fulfilling Day Tour

Sabah Art Gallery is shaped like a sirung. Stepping into the octagonal Sabah Art Gallery is stepping into art itself. Take a literary tour with us into one of Malaysia’s artistic wonders.

Sabah: A place art calls home 

Sabah has many beautiful places to explore.

The Sabah Art Gallery is located in Sabah, Malaysia. The people of Sabah are diverse in their culture, ethnicity, and religion but they exist in harmony. Tourists visit Sabah to enjoy the picturesque scenery and rich culture

Established in 1984, the Sabah Art Gallery shared space with the State Museum in its early days. In 2012, the art gallery moved to its current location. It now stands on 1.7 hectares of land in Kota Kinabalu. 

The art gallery is administered by the Sabah Cultural Board under the Sabah Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment.

The art gallery has many activities for visitors to engage in. Image source:

Its purpose is the improvement of appreciation of both local and foreign art in Sabah. You can participate in the monthly exhibitions, weekly workshops, seminars, and competitions.

The architecture of the Sabah Art Gallery

Sabah Art Gallery’s structure is like that of an upside-down sirung (a traditional hat). 

The walls of reinforced concrete spread outwards from its base at a 30-degree angle. The octagonal building has natural light streaming in from the skylight above. 

The Sabah Art Gallery Conservation Building is recognized as a Green Building. It has environmentally-friendly solar panels, a rainwater harvesting system and a light conservation system. 

The solar panels on the roof power the whole building. To save energy, lights turn off as visitors move on from an art piece. Harvested rainwater is used in the washrooms, and ponds, landscape. 

The exterior walls have decorative panels made up of motifs used by ethnic groups of Sahaba.  The Sabah Art Gallery is a perfect mix of art and architecture.

A tour of the Sabah Art Gallery

The gallery has four levels. The staff working area and storage area are on the first level. The entrance is the second level. As you walk in, the central staircase awaits. This spiral wonder leads to higher levels.  There are paintings and photographs that cover the stark white walls. Installation artworks, sculptures and carvings greet the eye as one views the area on the second level. 

Yaman’s interest in geometry inspired the gallery’s structure:

On the third level, you will find another art gallery and library. At the top level are the Yaman gallery, meeting rooms, and office space. The Yaman Gallery holds the artworks of Datuk Yaman Ahmad, the gallery’s founder. 

Visitors can sit on the black benches in the exhibition area and appreciate the artworks on display. If you are in need of direction, use the four signboards that direct visitors around the building.

Unique and artistic pieces to see at the Sabah Art Gallery

New artists and new art styles are showcased at the monthly exhibitions. There is always a new and unique artwork on display. But there are some iconic artworks to look forward to seeing. Some of these are

  • The four peculiar sign boards
  • .The wooden registration desk modeled after a hand holding an easel. 
  • The model of the building carved out of wood
  • Traditional Sabahan patterns on the gallery’s floor.

Exhibitions hold regularly at the Sabah Art Gallery & Conservation Centre. See some of the exhibitions on the Sabah Art Gallery website.

As you walk through the gallery there than 3,000 paintings, photographs, contemporary art, carvings, sculptures and art installations on display for your eyes to appreciate and enjoy. The gallery exhibits diverse artworks, featuring local and foreign artists. 

If you are an art collector, you can buy artworks on sale. Payment can be made by cash or cheque within official work hours (Monday-Friday from 8 am-5 pm).

How to get to the Sabah Art Gallery?

Sabah Art Gallery is about seven kilometers away from the city. It is located at Mile Two Penampang Road, near the National Archive in Kota Kinabalu. You can take orange public buses that ply the route to Penampang from Kota Kinabalu. Taxis are a better option for transportation to the gallery. 

You could also take the 15-minute walk from Sabah Museum or Queen Elizabeth Hospital to the gallery. It is best to go there from 9:00 am in the morning to 5:00 pm in the evening. As stated by The Sabah Art Gallery website, it is open every day except on public holidays.

Final thoughts

A visit to the Sabah Art Gallery is a necessity for every art lover. It is a unique experience that is equal to none. 

Creative works from local artists, and foreign artists, are always on display to the all. It is a great way to learn about the art of Sabahans and discover the new art forms finding a home in the art gallery. Take a trip to Sabah and enjoy art in its true form in Kota Kinabalu.

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