Originally known as Neka Art shop, the art shop sold art works of local artists. The name Neka was taken from art shop’s father who was a known wood sculptor. The Garuda Bird, which serves as the gallery's mascot, was one of I Wayan Neka's masterpieces. It was a monumental work of art that elevated Neka's name to the international world. In 1936, I Wayan Neka (Peliatan 1917–1980) joined the first arts organization in Bali called Pita Maha, under the guidance of Walter Spies, Rudolf Bonnet, I Gusti Nyoman Lempad, Tjokorda Gde Raka Soekawati and Tjokorda Gde Agoeng Soekawati.
He entered a sculpture competition in Bali in 1960 and came out on top as the first winner The Indonesian Pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair, in United States, commissioned a sizable three-meter-tall statue of the Garuda, which I Wayan Neka had the honor of creating. Another Garuda statue was created by I Wayan Neka in 1970 for EXPO'70 in Osaka, Japan. The largest Garuda statue in Bali was created by I Wayan Neka, who was a pioneer in the field.
At that time tourism in Bali began to develop with the opening of the Ngurah Rai international airport and the first five star hotel in Bali, namely the Bali Beach Hotel opened in Sanur. The opening of an international-class hotel at Sanur Beach in 1966 inspired schoolteacher Pande Wayan Suteja Neka to open an art shop in Ubud that sold woodcarvings by his father and paintings by Balinese artists. Pande Wayan Suteja Neka was a junior high school English teacher in Ubud. He is the son of a sculpture artist, I Wayan Neka . Ni Gusti Made Srimin, who was an ordinary housewife, has remarkable passion for learning about the art business industry. She is daughter of a Undagi Balinese mason, I Gusti Ketut Tengah.
At the end of 1966, an ordinary building was constructed on a 4 acres wide land located by the main road of Ubud village. Only bicycles, scooters, and motorbikes were commonly seen at the time. A bus or pick-up truck passed sporadically. With the sound of birds and rustling leaves, forests and bamboo trees were arranged in a line along the side of the road. The building is owned by a Balinese couple, Pande Wayan Suteja Neka (was born in Peliatan , 1939) and Ni Gusti Made Srimin (Taman Ubud, 1943-2018)
Pande Wayan Suteja Neka and Ni Gusti Made Srimin initially built a simple building on 4 acres of land at Jalan Raya Ubud . Then his art goods business began operating on October 20, 1966. Originally known as Neka Artshop, it later became Neka Exhibition. Soon after, he changed his name to Neka Art Gallery. The name of the establishment was later changed to Neka Fine Art Gallery in order to emphasize that the artworks sold are distinct from those offered by other galleries in the area of Ubud. Also to establish this location as a pioneer of fine art galleries in Ubud.
Numerous changes have taken place since Pande Wayan Suteja Neka and Ni Gusti Made Srimin founded their art business in 1966. From the beginning, the gallery housing the artwork of traditional artists has expanded to include the sale of contemporary works by local and foreign artists. Neka Art Gallery evolved from selling traditional Balinese paintings to contemporary works created by local and international artists. One of the Indonesian maestro painters whose works of art are collected is Affandi Koesoema. And paintings by Dutch born- Indonesian artist, Arie Smit as well.
With idealism as a descendant of a family of artists, the artworks displayed at the Neka Art Gallery are divided into 3 categories. The paintings were chosen with a clear principle in mind. Some of the paintings are up for sale, some are for private collections, and the best ones are in the museum collections. As an art gallery, in addition to selling works of art, it also fosters an appreciation for such works. The economic profits derived from works of art must be returned to support and develop the art itself. In about 10 years, Pande Wayan Suteja Neka and Ni Gusti Made Srimin were able to build a museum called Neka Art Museum at Jalan Raya Sanggingan, Kedewatan, Ubud, The museum is located in a different place than the gallery.
As Neka Art Gallery develops, it sells high-quality Balinese art pieces to promote sales and give artists the opportunity to create their best work. He made his selection for the Neka Art Gallery based on whether a piece embodied Bali's unique characteristics and unique feelings. Artists ought to strive for originality and refrain from creating works that imitate the work of famous artists. Ni Gusti Made Srimin, Suteja Neka's devoted wife, has consistently helped him with Neka Art Gallery since it first opened. To better the welfare of their family, Pande Wayan Suteja Neka and Ni Gusti Made Srimin pursued their business with a steadfast determination
In 2018 management of Neka Art Gallery was handed over to Pande Made Kardi Suteja and Putu Ayu Laksmi Kardi who then carried out building renovations and made changes to the management of the showrooms and collections.
The new main gate of the Neka Art Gallery reborn appears with a carving style combination of 3 dimensions of Buleleng style and flexibility of Gianyar (Manuaba) style.
The variety of carvings styles in Bali has various characters. The ones that are already well-known are the Buleleng (Tejakula) carving styles, the Gianyar (Sumita, Selakarang, Manuaba) carving styles, the Karangasem carving styles and the Klungkung (Nusa Penida) carving styles.
There are many other carving styles that need to be presented as a treasure trove of Balinese art and culture.
Starting from the total change merajan (family temple). The layout of the pelinggih was redesigned. The position of the pelinggih is made higher. The space is made wider. Existing buildings were redesigned and their layout made to suit the layout of the Balinese compound modification where there are Bale daja, Bale dangin, Bale dauh and Bale delod.
The existing bale dangin is shifted to the middle and made higher than before. The Gianyar Selakarang carving style is maintained. Bale dangin is the center of activity when there are traditional and religious ceremonies in Bali.
A new Bale Daja building was built. The style of carving displayed is the Buleleng style. The carving model is a collaboration of ideas between the owner and the carving artist. It takes a long process to realize a carving model starting from design discussions, making design sketches to turning them into carvings.
Bale Dauh and Bale Delod were redesigned by adding a touch of carving as an addition. It is complemented by a fish pond with a fountain that emits a natural gurgling sound.
In addition to the fine art paintings, the collections on display and for sale include seselet keris (small dagger) and luxury traditional Balinese and Indonesian fabrics. Seselet keris which functions as special jewelery for men as well as branded bags from Paris for women. Keris seselet as a sign of prestige and gallantry of a man. The traditional cloth called wastra is also a part of women's luxury jewelry.
So apart from being a place for ceremonies, the Balinese compound building can also be a show room for visitors to add insight about Balinese architecture, carving style and fine art work as well. This renovation was carried out on the initiative of Pande Made Kardi Suteja with his wife Putu Ayu Laksmi Kardi after receiving the blessing of his parents as the founder of Neka Art Galler.