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All You Need to Know about National Museum of Indonesia

by Vina Krisna Yanti
National Museum of Indonesia

When talking about museums in Indonesia, there are plenty of museums that you can visit. From museums in Banten, museums in East Java, museums in Aceh, and many more, you can always find one in every region of Indonesia.

But if you want to visit the most complete and the best one in Indonesia, then you must visit National Museum of Indonesia.

Since it is the national museum of Indonesia, the collections of the museum are also considered as the best, the finest, and the most complete in Indonesia.

If you want to know more about it, keep reading as we have provided you with all the things that you need to know about National Museum of Indonesia.

What it is

National Museum of Indonesia

Located at Medan Merdeka Barat Street, Central Jakarta, National Museum of Indonesia is an archeological, historical, geographical, and ethnological museum that is popular by the name of Elephant Building, due to the elephant statue that is placed in its forecourt.

The list of fields showcases in this museum is the one that makes it considered as the finest and the most complete one in Indonesia.

It has about 141,000 of collections that cover almost all of the history of Indonesia and all of its regions. The elephant statue in its forecourt is a gift from King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) from Thailand, who visited the museum in 1871.

The history of the museum

The Elephant Statue on the Front Yard of the Museum

During the period of 1700s, Europe was under the Age of Enlightenment where many people were trying to broaden their knowledge and views about the world.

In 1752, in Haarlem, Netherland, an association named de Hollandshe Maatschappij der Wetenschappen urged the Dutch colonial in Batavia, the former area of Jakarta, to create a similar intelectual and scientific organization.

This association finally came to life on 24 April 1778, based in Batavia, under the name Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen which was created by the Duth East Indies government. This association was the one who initiated the establishment of the National Museum of Indonesia.

One of the founders of the Dutch East Indies association, JCM Radermacher, donated his house, books, and cultural collections that built the first collection of the museum.

As time went by, the collections of the museum that came from donations were getting higher and forced the Dutch East Indies government to build a museum in 1862 at the location where the National Museum of Indonesia is now.

It was inaugurated in 1868 and widely known as Elephant Building or Gedung Gajah in Bahasa Indonesia and Statue Building or Gedung Arca due to the great collections of statues preserved in the museum. Only on 28 May 1979, after being renamed twice, the museum was officially named as the Museum Nasional or the National Museum.

The Collections

The Collection of the National Museum of Indonesia

As mentioned previously, the National Museum of Indonesia has around 141,000 collections. Around 61,000 of them are prehistoric and anthropological artifacts while around 5,000 of them are archeological artifacts that are gathered from all over Indonesia and Asia, including the artifacts from the Hindu-Buddhist period.

The artifacts and statues from the classical period of Hindu-Buddhist are the most comprehensive collections. The collections are mostly collected in the colonial era through donations, scientific expeditions, treasures from the Dutch East Indies military forces, excavations of archeological sites, acquisition of private collections, and many more.

There are two main buildings where the collections are showcased. They are the Elephant Building as the old wing and Arca or Statue Building as the new wing.

In Elephant Building, you can find the archeology and ethnography collections in form of gold and precious artifacts like ceramics and the artifacts from the Hindu-Buddhist period. There are also collections from the pre-historic and the colonial era.

In Arca Building, you can find collections that are taken from the cultural elements of Indonesia. The elements are the religious system and ceremony, societal systems and organization, knowledge, language, arts, livelihood system, and also technology and tool system.

Well, now you can clearly see the reason why the museum is named as the National Museum of Indonesia. Visiting the museum and look at its collections will surely be a complete tour of the day.

Fun Ways to View the Collections

1. Virtual Tour

Virtual Tour of the National Museum of Indonesia

The National Museum of Indonesia offers a new way to enjoy viewing the collections of the museum with the help of technology. In order to facilitate you to know the whole figure of the museum, you can have a virtual tour with 360º view that gives you a different feeling of exploration.

You can access the virtual tour here. On the page, you can walk around the museum by moving the arrows on the screen. You can also move forward to the next room by following a big blue arrow on the screen or choosing an area of the museum on the maps.

The collections can be seen in 3D, giving you a real sensation of being there. You can also see the explanation or the narration of each of the collection that are delivered in both Bahasa Indonesia and English. If you are curious about it, go check it out and have a virtual tour right away!

2. Online Exhibition

Online Exhibition offered by the National Museum of Indonesia

The National Museum also offers another fun way to explore the collections of the museum through online exhibition with the help of Google Art Project.

You can explore the collections and see the narration of each of them as if you are really there to see them. If you are interested on it, check it out here.

Tickets and Open Hours

Visiting the National Museum of Indonesia

Even though you have been facilitated with virtual tour and online exhibition, it will never feel vomplete to explore the museum without actually come visiting it and see the collections with your very eyes right in front of you.

As information, the museum opens everyday except for Monday and national holidays. On Tuesday to Friday, it opens from 08.30AM-04.00PM. On Saturday and Sunday, it opens from 08.30AM-05.00PM.

The ticket fee is IDR10,000 for international tourist, IDR5,000 for Indonesian adult, and IDR2,000 for Indonesian kid. It is surely not an expensive price to view the most complete and the finest collections of the National Museum of Indonesia.

While you are staying in Jakarta, you can also visit other interesting places near the National Museum. You can go to educational places to visit in Central Jakarta, old towns in Jakarta, Indonesia, or other best museums in Jakarta. Don’t forget to top it all with a fine dinner of best cheap local foods in Jakarta.

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