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IB History


The history of Istana Budaya was started in 1964 when a proposal to form the National Cultural Centre was submitted by then Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Ministry of Cultural and Social Welfare.

Istana Budaya was mooted during National Cultural Congress in 1971 as a Malaysian art discourse. Its establishment was advanced by the establishment of National Cultural Group (KBN) in 1972 under jurisdiction of Ministry of Cultural, Youth and Sports. In 1973, KBN were moving from Jalan Ampang to National Culture Complex at Jalan Tun Ismail that focuses its activities professionally in traditional dance and music.

Istana Budaya was initially build in 1995 with construction cost of RM210 million with an area of 5.44 hectare with floor area of 21,000 per square meter. Istana Budaya can be proud of as first theatre in Asia that has sophisticated stage mechanism for theatre performance.

The design of this building was based on Malay culture. Istana Budaya is situated nearby Tasik Titiwangsa along Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur. Its construction was completed in 1998. The cabinet has approved the abolishment of National Theatre (Panggung Negara) to ISTANA BUDAYA officially in 2000.




Architectural Uniqueness



The uniqueness of ISTANA BUDAYA design was based on few Malay cultural aspects. Viewing from the top, ISTANA BUDAYA is shaped like wau bulan Kelantan (Kelantan’s moon kite). The building shape is like sirih junjung – initiating emblance common event used in Malay marriage ceremony and reception of guest.

The building concept features Malay house with three main parts – corridor for lobby, parent house for Panggung Sari, and kitchen house for main stage and training hall. The stairs to Panggung Sari features traditional stairs of Malay house in Malacca.

Area of  Theatre

Istana Budaya


Panggung sari could accommodate 1421 people at any one time, including 796 people in Balai Sari Penghadapan at first floor. Meanwhile,  Main Balai Sari could accomodate 322 people at second floor and 303 people in Balai Sari Peninjau at third floor. The orchestra foyer could accomodadte 98 people when not in use. All seats are with numbers. Small lights at floor enable spectators to identify their seats.

Panggung Sari

Balairong Seri Istana of Malay Sultanate


The main entrance to Panggung Sari symbollise  the main entrance to Balairong Seri Istana of Malay Sultanate during Old Days. A theatre lobby at third floor duplicates design of rebana ubi – Malay traditional gendang. Once you inside Panggung Sari, you are reminiscing inside palace in old ages. The VVIP porch at left and right side adopting Malay house windows concept.


Istana Budaya Gallery


Area of Theatre

Panggung Sari

Balai Sari Penghadapan (Level 1)

Balai Sari Utama (Level 2)

Balai Sari Peninjau (Level 3)


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