Think about Macao, you’ll probably imagine casinos, entertainment outlets, luxury hotels and Portuguese heritage. And yes, medieval churches, temples, and 459 year-old Portuguese governed city are testament to Macao’s industrial and historical past.
Yet right now massive city development projects are rapidly expanding Macao into a ‘Vegas of the East’. At the same time the city is old – evidence of human and culture dating back 4,000 to 6,000 years has been discovered on the Macau Peninsula and dating back 5,000 years on Coloane Island.
With the rapid development, the locals and officials realised that discovering its art and culture is probably next to impossible. Thus, Macao offer visitors a unique perspective on the territory’s chequered past by having exhibitions, annual festivals, and many more to highlight the diversity of arts and culture which nourishes Macao.
Below are some places and highlights of arts and culture in Macao that I chanced upon during my 4-day visit.
The Macao Arts Festival. The Macao Arts Festival dramatically lights up the city every early summer, bringing together theatre, dance, music, circus, multimedia and visual arts in an artistic panorama of events. A mix of local, regional and international performers from various regions and countries around the world present a diversity of programmes, including Cantonese Opera, Western classical and modern music, Chinese music and drama, Macanese drama, and a host of exciting artistic experiences enjoyed by enthusiastic multicultural audiences for an entire month. The icing on the cake is that several performances are hosted by some of Macao’s enchanting and atmospheric UNESCO-listed World Heritage sites. For this year, 27th Macao Arts Festival is happening from Apr 30 – May 29, 2016.
Macao World Heritage. Comprising over 20 ancient monuments and urban squares interwoven in the heart of the city, the historic district is collectively known as “The Historic Centre of Macao” and inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2005. It stands today as a living testimony to the integration and co-existence of eastern and western cultures over a unique chapter in history. Leisurely explore the Historic Centre of Macao – you will discover various magnificent heritages and unveil their wonderful stories!
Azulejos ceramic art inside Leal Senado Building.
Museums and galleries. Visiting museums and exhibitions in Macao is an enjoyable, sure-fire way to make your visit more memorable and to gain more knowledge about this fascinating city and its history that include its culture of ‘East meets West’ over the past four and a half centuries.
One of the museums that I visited is Macao Museum of Art. The Macao Museum of Art is the only art museum in Macao and provides the largest space dedicated to visual arts. Current exhibitions include:
- Paintings by Su Liupeng from the MAM Collection
1 May 2016 – 29 May 2016
- Macao Arts Window 2016 Encounter – Printmaking by Catherine, Cheong Cheng Wa
22 April 2016 – 05 June 2016
- 10th Macau Design Biennial
17 December 2015 – 26 June 2016
- Ink Wash of the Forbidden City – Paintings by Charles Chauderlot
08 October 2015 – 16 April 2017
- Photographs of Old Temples in Macao
10 July 2015 – 03 July 2016
Left: Palace of Compassion and Tranquility (Cining Gong); Right: Pavilion of Flowing Music (Changyin Ge).
Edgar Degas – Figures in Motion. MGM kicks off its art exhibition by exhibiting a sculpture collection by legendary French artist Edgar Degas at MGM Art Space.A highlight program under Le French May, Edgar Degas –Figures in Motion presents 74 pieces of bronze sculpture never before been shown in Hong Kong and Macau, including the famous Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen.
Degas is known as one of the founders of Impressionism and is famous for his paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings. Curated by Dalit L. Durst of M.T. Abraham Foundation for the Visual Arts, guests will rediscover the era of Degas’ most glorious years and the Paris that he knew, through his timeless art pieces, focusing on three subjects Degas is known for: Horses, Dancers, and Bathing Women. The exhibition is also paired with interactive elements including guides to walk guests through the story of the art and opportunities for fun photos.
The exhibition is co-presented by Le French May and M.T. Abraham Foundation for the Visual Arts, supported by the French Consulate General of France in Hong Kong & Macau, and exclusively sponsored by MGM. Exhibition will be from 29 April 2016 until 20 November 2016. Opening Hours: 12pm – 9pm. Closed on Mondays (except public holidays).
Taipa Village. Taipa Village is my favourite; it is a laid-back village where the original community of Taipa Island started from, and one of only two traditional villages that still exist in Macau. It’s a small cluster of narrow lanes and alleys, with old colonial houses along them. It was great peeping into small temples, shops and cafes.
Direita Carlos Eugenio Street.
The Blissful Carrot Vegetarian Take-Away Restaurant, Direita Carlos Eugenio Street.
Door God art at Ka Sin Tong Temple, Direita Carlos Eugenio Street.
Garden-themed screen, one of the exhibits at Historical Museum of Coloane and Taipa, Correia da Silva Street.
Interesting exhibit at Historical Museum of Coloane and Taipa; a brand label of Yick Loong Fireworks dating from between 1930 and 1950. Macao was the central location for most firecracker manufacturing. This label features a beautiful woman with a silver bird to catch a buyers attention. The slogan is “My face is pretty like the silver bird.”
A craftsman working on Door God painting in front of Tin Hau Temple at Gov. Tamagnini Barbosa Street.
CunHa Bazaar. Cunha Bazaar is where tradition meets creativity, borne of the cooperation between Choi Heong Yuen Bakery and Macau Creations.
Macau Creations is the first designer-brand in Macau to celebrate its culture and artists. Each item is a collaboration of real originality, creativity and passion. The Macau Creations has been working with many local artists and made use of the essence of their creative works and designs to produce cultural creative products they have all been under constant trials and development by local artists and designers. Every small item is a small piece of art of an intense thinking of life.
Cunha Bazaar at Cunha Street.
A photo posted by Em – Illustrator, Malaysia. (@emilayusof) on
So, there you go. Do check out Macao Government Tourism Office and find out more about art and culture places around Macao.