Are they cute, curious, or creepy? The Setia Darma House of Masks and Puppets is a specialised museum with over 1000 masks and 5000 puppets in its collection. The collection includes pieces from other regions of the country and the world, shining a spotlight on the underappreciated traditional art form of masks and puppets in Indonesia.
How to Get to Setia Darma
The House of Masks and Puppets is only 6km from central Ubud and should take less than a 30-minute drive. Head south on Jalan Hanoman or Jalan Cok Gede Rai until Jalan Made Lebah. Drive eastward on this road until you get to Jalan Pasung Grigis. A large sign on Banjar Tegalbingin marks the entrance to Setia Darma House of Masks and Puppets.
Opening Hours & Admission Price at Setia Darma
The Setia Darma House of Masks and Puppets has a donation-based system. There was an ornate turquoise donation box on our visit. It was on a table outside one of the houses next to the guest book. We did not feel any pressure whatsoever to give money. The staff that were wandering around minded their business and did not ask if we had paid yet. There was no sob story about how the museum lives off donations or signs with “suggested donations.” Setia Darma feels truly like a “give what you want” kind of attraction.
The museum is open every day but has short opening hours of 8 am to 4 pm.
What to See at Setia Darma
The Setia Darma museum is a collection of small single-storey buildings scattered throughout an impeccably landscaped garden.
Each house will have a variety of stick puppets and masks. Sometimes the masks will be placed on full-sized costumed dolls so visitors can see how it is used in ceremonies or cultural plays. Many displays will have an exhibition label describing who the mask represents or its usage.
The masks and puppets don’t seem to be organised by any category or era. However, the exhibits are in an orderly manner within the houses. Nothing is crammed into a corner or cluttered. Each mask or puppet is neatly spaced from the one next to it, and guests have room to admire them without knocking into anything.
Facilities at Setia Darma
There is a small, open-air cafe at Setia Darma House of Masks and Puppets. Cafe Topeng is next to the parking lot. It was already closed when we visited the museum, but they probably had coffee and small nibbles.
Setia Darma has a public toilet for guests to use. Look for the signs pointing to the small toilet cabin. The washroom was very clean with so many groundskeepers and so few tourists. There was a sitting toilet with paper and soap at the sink.
I wish we had more time to explore the Setia Darma House of Masks and Puppets. This place is one of the most unique museums that we’ve visited. The only museum that could rival this is possibly the Ogoh Ogoh Museum, also in Bali. The pieces at Setia Darma are elaborate and well-preserved, even though we could get up close to them. There was nothing that looked sad or in disrepair. The House of Masks and Puppets is an incredibly high-quality museum, and I can’t believe it operates on donation entry. If you’re staying in Ubud, you should check out this museum.