One of the main reason people choose to visit Penang is to see the street art in George Town. And we can’t blame them. The scene here is so cool and hunting down the art is so much fun! There are a ton of maps available that show you exactly where all the art is, but if you want to have some fun with it, just walk around and see what you find. That’s what we did. So of course, there is a ton more artwork out there to discover, but let’s leave some for you to find!
Before you get started, here’s some history on how this whole art scene movement got started. Back in 2009, George Town, a UNESCO World Heritage city held a contest to revive its vibe and create an outdoor living musuem.
The winning idea was from local artist Tang Mun Kian, under the theme “Voices of the people“. You can find 52 steel-rod sculptures around the city showing elements from the everyday life of locals. The streets of the city are named after the trades, people and events that give a unique spin to each street. Having these sculptures at key areas puts the story back into the city and brings it to life in such a fun way.
There are many other artists who have contributed to the art around the city. The most famous are the interactive art pieces created by Ernest Zacharevic or the beautiful murals by Julia Volchkova and Louis Gan.
The works that Zacharevic were commissioned in 2012 by the Penang Municipal Council. He called the body of work ‘Mirrors George Town’ which include about 9 large scale murals in different location of the old town. His paintings represent characters and scenes that celebrate the energy and playfulness of life in the inner city. His work has truly transformed the vibe of the city, but they are quickly fading, so we’re quite lucky to have seen most of them. Some are already gone, but make us wonder if they will be replaced.
But that’s not all. There are also 12 murals depicting cats and dogs all over the city. These were drawn at the George Town Festival 2013 and were dubbed ‘101 Lost Kittens’. This is the work of a group of artists by the name of “Artists for Stray Animals”. Their objective was to create awareness for the needs of strays, which are all over the city. Their message was to help protect animals and get people to foster a love for pets. This is totally a message we can get behind.
The street art vibe is so alive in the city that even hotels, bars and restaurants that have participated in the fun. We can totally appreciate the work that everyone has put into making the city a true living museum.
If you are looking for more things to do in Penang, you can check out our City Guide with tons of tips and tricks on how to make the best of your time here.
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