The Istana Budaya epitomises the growing popularity of the performing arts in Malaysia. This historical organisation dates back to 1964 during the proposal for the National Cultural Centre was first mooted by the ministry which was then known as the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Ministry of Cultural and Social Welfare. In 1971, Istana Budaya was proposed at the National Cultural Congress which was then set up through the KBN (National Cultural Group) a year later under the purview of the then Ministry of Cultural, Youth and Sports and the KBN was then moved from Jalan Ampang to Jalan Tun Ismail.
The Istana Budaya would then be actively involved in the development and promotion of the local and traditional performing arts that include traditional dance and music and the current structure was built in 1995 that offered a 21,000 square meter of floor space. Today, the Istana Budaya is credited to be the first space in the entire Asian region to offer state-of-the-art technology made and catered specifically for staging of theatre and shows.
The unique architecture of the Istana Budaya is designed to exude the rich Malay culture where it stands majestically along Jalan Tun Razak at the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Completed in 1998, the Istana Budaya was officially launched in 2000 where it takes over the responsibilities and functions of the National Theatre or Panggung Negara which have since been abolished. From the top, one can see the Wau Bulan Kelantan shape of the building while the building is designed to exude a Sirih Junjung, common type of setup used in official ceremonies like the Malay traditional weddings and such.
There are 3 main areas of the Istana Budaya which are the main corridors, the parent house for the Panggung Sari and the kitchen house that keeps the training premises and the main stage while one would also find some rich traditional elements on the stairs leading to the Panggung Sari which was designed based on those found in the Malacca Malay homes.
At the main entrance of the Panggung Sari, one would be able to find the structure that looks like the Balairong Seri Istana found during the Malay Sultanate while a rebana ubi inspires the theatre lobby on the third floor of Istana Budaya. The Panggung Sari, which is the main stage hall is one of the largest halls in the region where it can house up to 1421 people where 796 of them would be seated at the first floor called the Balai Seri Penghadapan. The second floor is called the Main Balai Sari while the third floor is the Balai Sari Peninjau that holds 303 people.
The sheer size and stature of the Istana Budaya meant that it is able to host international and large shows where it has been bringing some of the best shows from all over the world and the country for the enjoyment of the Malaysian public. Among the notable shows that have been staged here in Istana Budaya include operas like The Merry Widow, Tosca, Carmen and others. Other than that, local acts like Puteri Gunung Ledang – The Musical and concerts by Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza have also been staged here.
Kementerian Penerangan, Komunikasi & Kebudayaan
Jalan Tun Razak, 50694 Kuala Lumpur
Tel : +603 4026 5555
Fax : +603 4025 5975