Looking For George Town’s Cultural Street Art

by May 19, 2020

Why is there so much art here?

I don’t know, but let’s go find’em! Gotta see’em all!

George Town’s Street Art tl;dr

  • George Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Murals Were Initially Put Up to Highlight Area Significance
  • Get Your Sunblock, Walking Shoes, Umbrella and Local Currency Handy

First and foremost, is it spelled George Town or is it Georgetown? It’s spelled differently depending where you look….

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That aside, I find that art is one of the many signifiers of culture. And it goes without saying that George Town is filled with art. It’s listed as one of UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage Site for it’s combination of architectural and cultural prominence within the oldest part of the island’s capital making it a portal into the past of what life used to look like.

To help bring attention to George Town’s history, the local government commissioned European artist Ernest Zacharevic to paint a number of paintings throughout the area. The resulting art exhibits have brought a lot of attention, and in turn have encouraged others to contribute their own art the growing scene.

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Art in All Shapes and Sizes

There’s so much art work that can be seen up and down and throughout George Town. You’ll see wall painted murals above main throughways, sprayed onto hidden walls within dilapidated structures, masterfully created metal exhibits highlighting an area’s history, and a lot of other inspired works from both enthusiasts and professionals.

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Throughout George Town you’ll find street art consisting of:

  • 52 Steel Historic Art Wall Pieces
  • Countless Painted Murals of Various Sizes
  • A Lot of 3D Exhibits (painted art and physically interactive props)

You’ll find art within downtown, outside museums, next to eateries, and even some by the waterfront. There’s art in front of stores, on people’s homes, and in open spaces. What I’m trying to say is that there’s a lot of art everywhere. 

penang night 04

To date, I have yet to find everything. Everytime I have the time to go back, I seem to find new pieces of art. I still haven’t found the recent shipping container art additions that I’ve heard about. It’s hard to imagine that I’m having such a hard time considering that shipping containers are so big… 

penang jetty umbrella

The reason I haven’t seen them all yet, is because there’s so many and it’s hot out there. I won’t lie, I get tired and exhausted after putting a number of miles behind me looking for them all. I’ll usually get distracted by snacks, meals, and maybe even a massage and then forget all about why I set out into the urban jungle that is George Town. 

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What is It

George Town’s Street Art adds to the charm of the UNESCO Heritage Site of George Town. There’a a lot of combination of different types of art that draws so many different types of tourists blowing up the tourist economy of that area.

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I’m fond of the Steel Caricatures both for their style and for the bit of history that they are trying to share with you about the area they are located. Who knows what the future of the art scene

What to Do There

When you’re in George Town you’re doing one of several things:

  1. Eating
  2. Drinking
  3. Shopping
  4. Talking about eating
  5. Looking for street art
  6. Take pictures of the art you find

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If you’re looking for art, put on your comfy shoes and start look after stepping into George Town. There’s a number of maps and self guided tours that can help you along the way with more recognized pieces but there’s newer artworks put up all the time. Ernest has even come back and secretly put up more murals.

I have seen some people just rent a car, take a cab, or maybe even a Grab (think Asian Uber) around to different areas to try to see them all. While others have rented bikes to manually make their way around while dodging traffic.

Whatever you end up doing, just go and do you and get lost in the art adventure. Maybe you’ll see them all, maybe you’ll see one of them… Yeah, you’ll see at least 1 no matter what you do. Just get out there!

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Next Time

The next time I’m back in town I plan to go check out the new artwork. Apparently one of the original artists came back and secretly touched up some old work while painting some new ones. People are always putting up new things too so it’s always an art adventure when we’re there.

penang night cat tank

Where is It

Literally all throughout the streets, back alleys, side streets, up high, down low, and everywhere between you can find something that was put there intentionally to draw your attention. I have yet to find them all; some I’ve forgotten about and others I’ll always remember.

You're going to eat, you might as well eat something tasty.
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