Blanco Renaissance Museum, Ubud
Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia
With an outlandishness that's second only to Salvadore Dali's museum in Figueres, Spain, the Blanco Museum is definitely over the top, with its over-sized entrance arch and gold-painted Balinese dancers on the roof. Inside, you won't find stark spaces painted white. Rather, there are bold colors like indigo blue and Chinese red on the walls, columns capped with ornate Corinthian capitals and doors framed with traditional Balinese stone carving. Many of the paintings themselves have ornate, sometimes outlandish, frames.
Like Dali, Don Antonio Blanco claims roots in Catalonia, Spain, although he was actually born in Manila, The Philippines in 1911 (or 1912). He lived for a while in Florida and California, and graduated from the National Academy of Art in New York. Like many artists before him, he felt the call of the tropics and traveled to Hawaii, Japan and Cambodia before ending up in Bali in 1952. He married a famous Balinese dancer named Ni Rondji in 1953.
The King of Ubud granted the artist two hectares of land above the river, where he built his home and museum. Blanco passed away in 1999, but his family continues to live and work in the compound. In addition to the main museum building, there are extensive gardens with a number of birds (caged and free) scattered about. The artist's studio - still used by his son Mario - as well as the public spaces of the main house are available for viewing. A small shop near the family temple carries some fantastic jewelry designed by one of Blanco's daughters