Why Macau is rising to the top of the bucket list for art enthusiasts and culture vultures.

Inside Macau, Asia’s next big living gallery

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The 3D paper art world of artist Benson Lam, now on showcase at Taipa Village Art Space.
The 3D paper art world of artist Benson Lam, now on showcase at Taipa Village Art Space. Photo Credit: Taipa Village Art Space

For art lovers and culturally curious travellers, Macau is virtually ground zero. In recent years, talented artists and creative venues have injected new energy to the flourishing art scene, turning the destination into a living gallery.

The variety of art-based attractions also provides travel agents with a creative canvas to craft endless possibilities for travellers to discover the true colours of Macau – its creativity and people.

Not convinced? Join us as we dive into the heartbeat of Macau’s art scene, from festivals to hidden galleries and thought-provoking art installations.


A year-long celebration of art 

International musical greats have joined the Macao International Music Festival, including the Sejong Soloists from the Republic of Korea, and The Vienna Philharmonic.
International musical greats have joined the Macao International Music Festival, including the Sejong Soloists from the Republic of Korea, and The Vienna Philharmonic. Photo Credit: Macao International Music Festival

As Macau’s biggest festival for arts and culture, Art Macao is the quintessential launch pad into the city’s cultural smorgasbord. Internationally renowned artists and ideas will descend upon Macau for the biennial festival from July to October this year, turning the destination into one giant gallery and garden of creativity.

Art Macao: Macao International Art Biennale 2021 – themed ‘To Create for Well-Being’ – packs more than 30 art exhibitions across 25 venues, alongside a series of thematic lectures, art tours and creative competitions. In addition to showcasing 12 works of talented Macanese artists, this year’s Art Macao also attracts the participation of the four UNESCO Creative Cities – Macau, Nanjing, Wuhan, Linz – to explore the interplay of art with gastronomy, literature, design and media through the first-ever Creative City Pavilion. 

The Macao International Music Festival is back from 22 August to end October, where 2020’s event included interactive public participation via its popular Street Piano Project.
The Macao International Music Festival is back from 22 August to end October, where 2020’s event included interactive public participation via its popular Street Piano Project. Photo Credit: Macao International Music Festival

Throughout the year, numerous art events and festivals also cement Macau as a gathering place for artistic innovators. The Macao International Music Festival brings together an array of acclaimed theatre, ballet, symphony and jazz performances, while the edgy Macau Arts Festival spotlights vibrant contemporary productions from around the world.  


Public displays of artistic affection 

While touring Macau, look out for artworks integrated into main public spaces such as Miss You, by Thai artist Gongkan.
While touring Macau, look out for artworks integrated into main public spaces such as Miss You, by Thai artist Gongkan.

There’s nothing quite like art integrated into the environment. The eye-catching outdoor installations and performances dotted across the city during Art Macao is an open invitation to travellers to admire the destination as one incredible work of art.

Visitors should head to Tap Seac Square for an up-close look at Italian artist Riccardo Cordero’s “Chakra”, an intriguing sculpture that takes different forms when viewed from different angles. Cutting a striking appearance by Anim’Arte Nam Van is Thai artist Gongkan’s “Miss you”, depicting a man and a woman stepping out of a mirror into embrace to symbolise free love. At Barra Square, Erlich Egyptian artist Moataz Nasr’s “Sunboat” features a collection of 360 paddles interconnected in a circular shape to explore the concept of migration.   

Beyond festivals, Macau’s streets are also a living reflection of its rich artistic heritage. Those seeking hidden gems may find galleries and exhibition venues tucked away in heritage buildings, giving travellers the quintessential Macau experience. Also awaiting discovery is Patio de Chon Sau – a small but colourful area just below the Ruins of St Pauls – which is dotted with experimental boutique shops and contemporary structures.

A favourite among the Instagram set is the colourful wall art surrounding Macau Hotel S – itself an art-oriented hotel – on Praca Ponte e Horta, whereas the Anim’Art Nam Van lakeside hub attracts locals and visitors drawn to its creative retail spaces and grafitti art.


Check in and check out hotel galleries

Awakening — part of a series of lion-inspired art works, such as this AR activated one at MGM COTAI.
Awakening — part of a series of lion-inspired art works, such as this AR activated one at MGM COTAI.

Creative expression abounds even in Macau’s hotels and mega resorts. For the work of legendary artists, look no further than MGM Macau, where Salvador Dali’s bronze-clad Alice in Wonderland sculpture flanks the resort entrance, while an exquisite collection of nearly 1,000 hand-blow glass flowers adorn the Fiori di Paradiso Ceiling – the first masterpiece of Dale Chihuly in Asia. Macau’s biggest hotel, Sheraton Grand Macao, is kitted out like an art gallery with stunning pieces adorning its rooms and public areas.

During Art Macao 2021, MGM Cotai roars to life with its special exhibition “Awakening”, which invites famed Chinese artists like Xue Song and Liu Guofu to create exciting pieces inspired by lions. At City of Dreams’ Dancing Water Theatre, French artist Ange Leccia’s “La Mer” expertly fuses water sculptures with videos, photos, sound and light to immerse visitors in the surreal beauty of the sea. 

Heart Teapot by Richard Notkin, one of more than 20 ceramic artists and art institutions joining Project Sands X: Beyond the Blue – An Exhibition of Ceramic Extraordinaire at The Venetian Macao.
Heart Teapot by Richard Notkin, one of more than 20 ceramic artists and art institutions joining Project Sands X: Beyond the Blue – An Exhibition of Ceramic Extraordinaire at The Venetian Macao. Photo Credit: Sands China

Sands Macao, meanwhile, devotes The Venetian Macao to a playground of discovery of the city’s centuries-long pottery art heritage through “Project Sands X: Beyond the Blue – An Exhibition of Ceramic Extraordinaire”. Famed artist Caroline Cheng has curated more than 20 world-renowned ceramic craftsmen and institutions to present their dazzling artwork through an innovative lens.  


Art meets history

The ‘Plant’ series by Vasco Araújo of Portugal, one of many international artists’ works featured at this year’s Art Macao.
The ‘Plant’ series by Vasco Araújo of Portugal, one of many international artists’ works featured at this year’s Art Macao.

Visitors should save a day for Macao Museum of Art, the city’s largest and most comprehensive gallery. The 40,000sqm space is home to an impressive collection of Chinese calligraphy, prints and ceramics, not to forget paintings that depict the city during its colonial days. The five-storey museum houses the Main Exhibition during Art Macao, gathering more than 100 pieces of valuable artwork by over 40 artists from around the world.

Another venue that has made its mark on Macau’s burgeoning creative scene is Taipa Village Art Space, tucked in a traditional shophouse in the heart of Taipa Village – which itself has undergone a creative renaissance in recent years. A nod to the city’s local talent, the venue is showcasing Benson Lam’s 3D paper art — recreations of Macau’s iconic street scenes and icons in playful, sculptural forms —  until 1 October.  

With a year-round roster of cultural showcases and ever-growing crop of creative venues, Macau is shaping up to be Asia’s next big creative capital – a sure bet for clients seeking discovery and inspiration.

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This article is brought to you by Macao Government Tourism Office.

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