Travel on the Pasisir Batik Road - The National Museum of Indonesia

Nandi, the bull, is the mount of the Hindu god, Shiva the Destroyer.  From 13th - 14th c. it was found in Malang, East Java.  It exudes an impression of peace and tranquillity. [Photo- Ian Reed]

The Museum Nasional (the National Museum of Indonesia), has endeavoured to preserve Indonesia's heritage for two centuries and will continue to do so.  It has a broad and fascinating collection which covers all of Indonesia's territory and almost all of its history.  The Age of Enlightenment in mid 18th century Europe lead to European settlers in Indonesia to follow suit.  In April 1778, the Governor General of the Netherlands East-Indies Council, Reinier de Klerk, gave his permission to establish Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen (The Batavian Society of Arts and Sciences), the first society of its kind in Asia [The Museum Nasional Guidebook].

The Collections are immense and include excellent Textile and Ceramic collections.  There are clear connections between the motifs and colours found on some of the ceramic objects and those on various batik cloths especially those of Chinese origin.  We spent much time also in the outstanding Ethnography collection comprising a wide variety of objects that are part of Indonesian daily life as well as objects used in ceremonies and rituals.  It is important to remember that Indonesia has the fourth largest population in the world which consists of over 300 ethnic groups.  The Museum has a wealth of stone statues relating to ancestral worship, Hindu gods and goddesses, kings and animals.

It was extremely encouraging to note that the Museum is in the process of upgrading the exhibition experience being provided for their visitors.  Outstanding objects are being given a curatorial context and supported by good exhibition design, interpretative and educational planning and an awareness of the conservation needs for each object.  While collections and exhibitions are central to the present museum experience, the objects are with the changes taking place, surrounded more and more by contextual and interpretive materials, storytelling, and an exploration of the meaning of the objects.  As a result visitors feel more informed and connected to the objects and the exhibition as well as, to the Museum.  An example of these changes can be seen in the ongoing development of the Indonesian Gold exhibition.  

The Indonesian Heritage Society organises free English tours of the museum at 10:30am every Tuesday and Thursday, every second Saturday and the last Sunday in the month.  There are tours for a number of other languages as well. 

We were given an outstanding tour by Terry Melendez, Vice-Chairman Operations, Indonesian Heritage Society- sincere thanks Terry.      

The Museum Nasional is on the western side of Merdeka Square:
Jl. Merdeka Barat 12, Jakarta Pusat, Indonesia
Telephone: +62(21) 381 1551

Indonesian Heritage Society Library and Office:
17th Floor, Sentral Senayan 1
(adjacent to Plaza Senayan)
Telephone: +62(21) 572 5870


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