Art + Design

5 Creative Arts and Culture Hubs in KL You Should Know About


By Genie Leong

5 Creative Arts and Culture Hubs in KL You Should Know About

It’s been a tricky past couple years for Malaysia’s creative industry. Lockdowns and pandemic restrictions have gotten in the way of many events and plans. Now that life is finally regaining some semblance of normalcy, many arts and culture hubs around Kuala Lumpur have sprung back to life and are welcoming art lovers and culture enthusiasts back onto their once closed premises with promises of new and exciting events. Happen to be in the city and looking for a place to explore? Here are 5 creative arts and culture hubs in KL that you should know about.

1) Ilham Gallery

Occupying Levels 3 and 5 of the Ilham Tower in Kuala Lumpur and just a 5 minute walk from the Petronas Twin Towers, Ilham gallery serves as a space for the development, education, and enjoyment of modern Malaysian art. Exhibitions often highlight works by Malaysian artists, and are meticulously planned and executed in order to bring visitors closer to the ideas, stories, and people behind the artwork. In the aftermath of the pandemic that has heavily affected the local art industry, Ilham Gallery has gotten innovative with their new ventures, announcing their first ever open call exhibition where both emerging and established have the opportunity to have their work displayed in the gallery in the upcoming new year. The gallery’s current ongoing exhibition puts the spotlight on the late Malaysian artist, Kok Yew Puah and his ideas as expressed in his essays, paintings, interviews, personal conversations and more. Are you or any of your loved ones art lovers? Ilham Gallery is your next must-visit location.


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Once the iconic Rex Cinema, REXKL is now a bustling cultural hub frequented by many based in or passing through downtown KL. Abandoned for a few years after the cinema shut down, the building has been repurposed into a multipurpose space that is available for rentals for all kinds of creative events and programs. Concerts, pop-up markets, and workshops are only some of the events that you can expect to see hosted at REXKL. The space also houses F&B outlets and retail stores, so there’s always something interesting to seek out even on days that aren’t busy with special events. Much of the building’s original structure has remained untouched, preserving the building’s old-school charm. The bare brick and concrete surfaces give the space a raw industrial aesthetic that looks incredible in photos. The building is a mere 2-minute walk from Petaling Street, so there’s no shortage of nearby places to tour. Looking for a new spot to explore in the heart of KL? Don’t forget to stop by REXKL next time you’re in the area.


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3) The Zhongshan Building

Located in the centre of KL in the historic Kampung Attap area, The Zhongshan Building is another vintage building that offers a lot more than what its exterior might suggest. The newly restored 1950’s structure that once housed the Selangor Zhongshan Association is now inhabited by a mix of local creative businesses and studios. There’s a little bit of something for everyone here; from coffee and tea spots to independent bookstores and letterpressing services and much more. With the stores located throughout the building’s four floors, The Zhongshan Building is an explorer’s treasure trove and makes for an exciting escapade full of hidden nooks and crannies to investigate. Occasionally, the building hosts public events ranging from live music gigs and art exhibitions to workshops and lectures. With so much to fall in love with, come by with family or friends and make a day out of it. Who knows, you may just discover your new favourite hangout spot in the city.


When one thinks about arts and culture, malls are probably not the first thing to come to mind. One space that is currently changing that is GMBB in Bukit Bintang, well-regarded as the city’s fashion and entertainment hotbed. The mall aims to merge artistic creativity with its retail offerings. GMBB has recently gained significant traction for its art exhibitions, some of which are held simultaneously on different floors of the shopping mall. With increasing popularity in the local creative scene, GMBB is gradually becoming a space for creative minded individuals and enterprises to congregate and showcase their work and scope out new trends. The launch of the mall in 2018 featured an open gallery displaying highly-acclaimed local artist Eddie Putera’s miniature art creations, solidifying GMBB’s reputation as an arts and culture hotspot in the city’s bustling creative epicentre. Offering artisanal shopping options and an abundance of art exhibitions to appreciate and muse over, GMBB should definitely be high up on your list of places to visit.


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