One of my absolutely favorite things to do in Jakarta is visit museums. One of my personal favorites is the National Museum where Indonesian culture and diversity are portrayed in every piece of the collection. I had a blast visiting the Harry Darosono Museum in South Jakarta and getting to wear one of Princess Diana’s tiaras. I try to take every visitor to the Textile Museum to make Batik and never miss out on the Puppet Museum when I visit the old town area or plan to have lunch at Cafe Batavia.
Although many of the museums in the Big Durian aren’t in the best of conditions I have learned so much about Indonesian culture and particularly the history of old Batavia. On our latest visit to Sunda Kelapa Harbor we stopped by the Maritime Museum located just a few meters above sea level.
A former Dutch East India Company warehouse has now become the abode of a large collection of maritime and naval artifacts that range from scale models of dutch boats, navigation instruments and even a few tribal boats from Indonesia’s many islands.
Despite the menial recovery fee of Rp. 2,000, the museum is in fantastic condition and the staff on site are very helpful and make a tremendous effort to make the best of your visit by answering any questions you might have and giving out plenty of maps and brochures.
The building itself is a sight worth seeing as the Dutch influence is evidenced by the arches and curves but the building still has an Asian flare to it.
The first section of the museum accommodates old Dutch ships and their instruments. Batavia was the home of the Dutch for many years and the architecture and infrastructure was modified to the needs of the trading company. As I saw all the utensils and pictures of boats I felt like I was in any Maritime museum in Europe. The compasses and other navigation tools were all in Dutch and everything was manufactured in Europe.
The courtyard of the Maritime Museum lies in between two old warehouses. The plants in the courtyard are up kept wonderfully and although the Jakarta sun is too much to bear there are several sitting areas available throughout the esplanade.
The second section of the museum includes traditional Indonesian boats and artifacts. My favorite was a 20 meter long canoe from Papua. I wasn’t able to take many pictures of the second section as I was a bit rushed but I promised myself I would bring the kiddos over sometime soon.
The Maritime Museum is a small gem in the middle of the chaos of the Old Town. It is definitely worth a visit, particularly if you have kids who love boats and anything related to the sea. If you plan ahead you are able to visit both this museum and the museums in Kota Tua in one day. Otherwise, just come here for the day and enjoy the grandiose sights of Sunda Kelapa which is just located a few feet away.
- Don’t come on Monday, it’s closed.
- Bring cash as cards are not accepted. I know the entrance fee is tiny but there is a wonderful market just in front of the museum. You will very likely be enticed by the knick-knacks available nearby.
- There isn’t much to eat by the market but if you walk just a bit further the extraordinary Batavia Marina Restaurant will be the perfect place to satiate your appetite and cool down after walking by the harbor.
- Do visit Sunda Kelapa. It is quite unique. You don’t have to ride the small fishing boats but at least take a look at the kampung by the harbor. It is Jakarta at is rawest.
- Definitely bring the kids. Looking at boats will be quite a treat for them. The museum is stroller friendly but the harbor not so much if you plan to visit the kampung.
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