They say places are defined by its history. That pieces of what was mark what now is. That the past determines the present. I believe some of this is true but what I really am sure about is that catching a glimpse of history is essential in understanding the existing conditions of a place.
I visited the National Museum of Jakarta a few weeks ago. As I entered the museum I was greeted by a couple of guides who spoke good English. The museum ticket was only 10,000 rupiahs! Sometimes I wish they charged a bit more so they can maintain the museum in pristine condition.
I had been told that the Museum is the best one in Jakarta and although I haven’t visited that many museums I have to agree that it is surprisingly well kept. Rooms and rooms full of instruments, artifacts and art give the visitor of what Indonesia was and Indonesia now is.
My particular favorite exhibition portrayed the different islands and regions of Indonesia. They had clothes, weapons and every day objects that they use currently in their every day lives. It was astounding how different people from the same country can act , behave and live their lives. I was so impressed to see the people in Guinea using wood bark to make clothes and the people in Sumatra rely on bamboo and palm trees to build their homes.
Most of the exhibitions have a description in English. You can tell which ones have been renovated lately. I would recommend you buy the Museum Guide as it includes some information that otherwise you would miss.
Unity in diversity has become Indonesia’s motto and it is intrinsically portrayed in every exhibition. The contrast of the big Durian with the places where Durian is actually grown is immense.
The sculpture garden was one of the exhibitions I enjoyed the most. From Hindu to Buddhist and Muslim representations the stonework is just beautiful.
As the European interior design junkie I am I have to say that the art deco pieces found in one of the rooms made me think about having them replicated and put in my apartment!
The textiles in the museum were so bright and different from each other. I was impressed to see everything from Batik, to cotton and silk and even wood used to make clothes. The Thai Pavilion was beautiful and one of the best textile exhibitions in my opinion.
To be honest I only spent about an hour and a half there. I was a bit rushed and now I regret I didn’t stop and take in everything the museum had to offer. I think a good thorough visit would take approximately 3 to 4 hours. That is if you stop at every display cabinet and read every piece of information.The Museum is a great place to take visitors. It gives an understanding of what Indonesia is all about.
-Don’t come on a Monday as I did! All museums in Jakarta are closed on Mondays! ;) The one day I didn’t check online before visiting was the day it was closed….
-Beware if there are school visits on the day you go to the Museum. You might become the biggest attraction…
-I would not recoomend you bring toddlers with you. Some of the exhibitions are in open spaces and little hands might be too tempted to touch them.
-Eat before you come here. There isn’t really a place to sit down and sip coffee or have a snack.
-You could visit the museum and the National Monument on the same day. They are facing each other.
-If you have a big event coming up, think about holding it at the Museum! I know this sounds too far fetched but I saw them setting up for a function and I was kind of jealous I wasn’t invited. The view of the gardens is stunning and the high ceilings and colonial architecture make the Museum a gorgeous venue to hold a function. I kind of wish I was getting married again in there….Museum Nasional Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat 12 Jakarta Pusat