So you’re an art fan visiting Macau? Well, you’ll be happy to know there is a good mix of art-based attractions that can be enjoyed during your visit. Your Macau itinerary should include Macau museums such as the Macau Art Museum, Macau art galleries with permanent collections along with regular international exhibitions, World Heritage attractions showcasing religious artworks and an emerging local Macau art gallery scene.
Here are the best options if you want to include art stops in your plans for Macau sightseeing. Another good time to visit is during Art Macao, which is a world-class event with world-class European and Chinese art on display.
Macau art gallery scene
1- Macau Museum of Art
The art scene begins with the Macau Museum of Art (MAM).
This is Macau’s only major art museum, where you can view permanent collections of 17th-century Chinese calligraphy and find 19th-century sketches and paintings of old Macau by English painter, George Chinnery.
Additionally, you will find a small series of now-and-then photos that are quite compelling to see, especially with the rapid development and changes taking place in Macau these days.
The MAM hosts temporary exhibitions that are often of exceptional quality, such as the exhibition of French Masterpieces (2014), which brought to Macau the works of French Masters such as Renoir, Monet and Matisse from top museums of Paris and Versailles.
Prior to visits to Macau, check out the Macau Museum of Art website for their current and upcoming exhibition schedule.
MAM is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 7 pm (closed on Mondays). Entry is MOP5 (free entry on Sundays and public holidays).
2- Tap Seac Gallery
In the heart of St. Lazarus District, visitors will find Macau’s best art gallery at Tap Seac Square.
Converted from an administrative building into much-needed art space, Tap Seac Gallery has hosted some very impressive international exhibitions over the years.
Mostly contemporary in nature, notable exhibitions have included the works of British photographer Clive Barda (2012) and Czech contemporary artist Václav Jirásek (2012).
In 2014, Tap Seac Gallery showcased Martijn F. Le Coultre’s collection of rare original posters (circa 1880-1980s).
This was a real treat for art lovers.
Tap Seac Gallery is open daily from 10 am to 9 pm and entry is free.
3- Leal Senado
Most visitors to Macau will eventually find themselves at Senado Square visiting the World Heritage attractions in this historic area of the city.
While there, fans of art should stop by Leal Senado, where exhibitions are held throughout the year, many of which are art-themed.
Another art reason to pay Leal Senado a visit is to see the large collection of Portuguese-style tiled murals, which line the building’s inner walls and courtyard.
You will see examples of these blue and white tiles elsewhere in Macau but the Leal Senado murals are particularly beautiful and merit a few minutes of appreciation.
Leal Senado is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am to 9 pm (Closed Mondays). Entry is free.
4- Chinnery Murals at Cathedral Square
Additional stellar examples of the Portuguese tiled murals can be spotted at the base of nearby Cathedral Square.
Here visitors can see a row of works (ca. 1835-1840) by George Chinnery, depicting what Macau looked like during the first half of the 19th century.
The Chinnery murals are one of Macau’s best-hidden secrets, available for convenient discovery and enjoyment for those eager to see places not covered in the Macau guidebooks.
5- Historic Religious Artworks
A few of the UNESCO World Heritage attractions in the Historic City Centre include minor museums with collections of religious artworks.
Most notably, the Treasure of Sacred Art Museum located at St. Dominic’s Church, showcases 300 religious artifacts and paintings mostly from the late 19th to early 20th century.
The Treasure of Sacred Art Museum is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm and entry is free.
A similar but smaller collection of 16th to 19th-century works is found at the Museum of Sacred Art situated in the crypt behind the Ruins of St. Paul.
This is another quick stop worth making if you enjoy religious artworks.
The Museum of Sacred Art and Crypt is open daily from 9 am to 6 pm (Closed Tuesday Afternoons). Entry is free.
Local Art Scene
The past decade has ushered into Macau a thriving local art scene, which can be experienced at several venues and locations around the city.
6- 10 Fantasia
The most convenient place to check out the local art scene is 10 Fantasia, a creative industries project in the heart of the beautiful St. Lazarus District.
This local art incubator has been showcasing the works of local artists since 2008 and there are often some very good pieces to see.
10 Fantasia exhibitions change on a monthly basis, meaning new and upcoming artists have regular opportunity to showcase their works.
This also means art fans making return visits to Macau will always have something different to view during future calls.
10 Fantasia is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10.30 am to 6.30 pm (Closed Mondays). Entry is free.
7- Ox Warehouse
Another venue where you can find creative local art is the Ox Warehouse near Mong Ha Hill.
This is an old slaughterhouse refit with inner wall space, used by local artists to showcase their unique and individual talents.
Open to the public, there can be interesting works on display at Ox Warehouse.
Yet what makes this venue different is that visitors are often invited to become a part of the art creation process by adding their own artistic contributions to the open wall space found here.
Ox Warehouse is open Wednesdays to Mondays from 12.00pm to 7.00pm (Closed Tuesdays). Entry is free.
8- Muse Art Zone
For those who enjoy street art, you will want to pass by the outdoor city park called Muse Art Zone on Rua dos Mercadores, just a few minutes walk from Senado Square.
Here, alongside park benches and exercise equipment, you will see exposed outer walls of gutted-out buildings, which have been playfully decorated with creative graffiti works.
This is Macau making good use of bad space with art.
Interestingly, the graffiti works change several times a year so this is another place worth revisiting even if you’ve been before. There is usually something new and different to see at the Muse Art Zone.
The Muse Art Zone is open daily from 9 am to 9 pm daily and entry is free.
9- Macau Creations
Want to support the local art scene?
Macau Creations is a coop organization, which helps foster and promote the local art scene by selling works and souvenirs made by local artists.
This is a good place to spend your souvenir money if you feel strongly about supporting local art movements.
10- Art events
In Macau, there are plenty of opportunities to add art stops to your sightseeing itinerary.
As an art fan, I find that there is always something going on in Macau’s art scene that is worth taking time to see.
Brad Reynolds lives and works in Hong Kong but spends much of his free time in Macau enjoying the art scene here.