Monday, January 21, 2013

Learn Indonesian history from National Museum

The National Museum of Indonesia (Indonesian: Museum Nasional), is an archaeological historical, ethnological, and geographical museum located in Medan Merdeka Barat street, Central Jakarta, right on the west side of Merdeka Square. Popularly known as Elephant Building (Indonesian: Gedung Gajah) after the elephant statue in its forecourt. Its broad collections cover all of Indonesia's territory and almost all of its history. The museum has endeavoured to preserve Indonesia's heritage for two centuries.

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The museum has a collection of 61,600 prehistoric and anthropological artifacts, and 5000 archaeological artifacts from all over Indonesia and Asia. The museum collections are among the richest, the most complete, and the best of its kind in Indonesia and one of the finest in Southeast Asia.
The museum has 2 buildings that  display the collections: Gedung Gajah (Old Wing) and Gedung Arca (New Wing)

Gedung Gajah (Old Wing)

Stone Sculpture Collection (Hindu-Buddhist Art of Ancient Indonesia). Show the richest and the largest collection of Hindu-Buddhist sculptures, relics and inscriptions of ancient Indonesia. It was collected from Java, Bali, Sumatra, and Borneo, all are in display in the lobby, the central hall and the central atrium of the museum. The Buddha statues from Borobudur are displayed in the lobby. 

The centerpiece collection also the largest artifact of the museum is the statue of Adityavarman depicted as Bhairava. This statue is more than 4 meters tall and discovered from RambahanPadangroco, West Sumatra.

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Archaeology and Ethnography Collection at Treasure Rooms in the second floor. It features treasures, gold, and precious artifact. It arranges in two rooms; archaeological treasure and ethnology treasure. Taking picture is prohibited in the treasure rooms.

Archaeological treasure room features ancient gold and precious relics acquired from archaeological findings, mostly originated from ancient Java. One of the most prized collection of the museum is the statue of Prajnaparamita. Such ancient gold adornments were in display; such as crown, ear adornment, earrings, rings, bracelets, kelat bahu (arm bracelet), leg bracelet, waist band, belt, upawita or tali kasta (golden chain worn across the chest), and other precious artifacts of ancient Java.

Golden Hindu-Buddhist relics were also in display, such as the Hindu gods images made from gold leaf, bronze statue of Shiva Mahadeva with gold applied on his lips and third eye, the bronze statue of Avalokiteshvara and also the silver statue of youthful Manjusri.

The ethnology treasure room features treasures acquired from royal houses of Indonesia, such as regalias from various istanaskratons and puri of Indonesian archipelago, arranged in several island zones: Sumatra, Java, Bali, Borneo, Sulawesi, and Eastern Indonesia (Nusa Tenggara, Maluku and Papua).

The ethnology treasure room display various royal precious objects such as golden jewelries (bracelets and rings embedded with rubies, diamond, precious stones) and weapons (such as Balinese kris weapon embedded with precious precious stones). Golden royal crowns, gilded throne, golden royal regalia, golden tobacco container, Pekinangan (silver betel-nut set), sword and golden shield is among the collection of the treasure room.

Ceramics collectionis ranged from Majapahit terracotta to the ceramics of China, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, and Myanmar. Majapahit terracotta water vessels, statues, roof tiles to piggy bank are on display. The museum houses a large and complete collection of ancient Chinese ceramics. . The ceramics dated from Han, Tang, Sung, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasty spanned for almost two millennia.

Ethnography collection, comprises a wide variety of objects that are part of Indonesian daily life as well as exhibits that are used in ceremonies and rituals. The collections is arranged according to geographic locations of each regions and islands within Indonesian archipelago: from Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, Bali, Lesser Sunda Islands (Nusa Tenggara), to Sulawesi, Maluku, and Papua.

Prehistory collection. The museum stores some stone age artifacts such as fossiled skull and skeleton of Homo erectus, Homo floresiensis and Homo sapiens, stone tools, menhir, beads, stone ax, bronze ceremonial ax and Nekara (bronze drum), also ancient weapons from Indonesia.

Historical Relics Collection (Colonial Era Collection). The front room of the museum features old relics of colonial Indonesia, from the era of Dutch East Indies Company (VOC) to Dutch East Indies. Most of the collections are antique colonial furniture. However most of the collections has been moved to Jakarta History Museum that mostly features the history of Jakarta especially the colonial history of Batavia (old Jakarta).

Other Collections: Bronze Collection, Textile Collection and Numismatics Collection

Gedung Arca (New Wing)
This new wing exhibit the frameworks of cultural elements, which classified into seven substances of culture: Religious system and religious ceremony; Societal systems and organization; Knowledge systems; Language; Arts; Livelihood systems; and Technology and tool systems. It consists of a basement and seven levels, four of which host permanent exhibitions.

The old building and the new wing is connected via the old ethnography room through a glass walled bridge gallery. The bridge gallery is located over the outdoor amphitheater. It also houses two temporary exhibition halls, one in the ground floor and another is in the basement floor. Cafeteria and souvenir stall is located in the ground floor.

Getting Here
You can take either taxi or bus. It’s recommended to ride Trans Jakarta Busway for your comfort. Take bus with Blok M to Kota Tua route and alight at the National Monument (Monas) station. The Museum is located at the cross side of Monas bus stop.

  • The Indonesian Heritage Society (5725870) organizes free English tours of the National Museum at 09:30 every Tuesday and Thursday and 10:30 every second Saturday and last Sunday in the month; French tours take place at 09:30 every third Wednesday of the month.
  • Take care of your belonging.


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