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National Museum

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Indonesia’s National Museum is an excellent introduction to this diverse nation with an absorbing collection of fine artefacts that span the archipelago. If you are passing through Jakarta, consider this a must see as it presents an ideal opportunity to gain some context and history to the places and things you may encounter on your Indonesian travels.

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Unfortunately at the time of our research much of the museum was closed for renovation due to reopen at the end of August 2018 (although there is still plenty to see). The museum is known locally as “Museum Gajah” or the elephant museum (which is what you should tell your taxi driver), named for the bronze elephant in the forecourt, a gift from the King of Siam (Thailand) Chulalongkorn (Rama V) in 1871.

Postcards were a real breakthrough. Photo taken in or around National Museum, Jakarta, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Postcards were a real breakthrough. Photo: Sally Arnold

The museum’s exhibition galleries expand over two wings, the original wing officially opened in 1868 (temporarily closed) with the modern wing added in 2007. The comprehensive collection predates the building by some 80 years and ranges from Indonesia’s pre-history through to pieces from the Dutch colonial period along with a large ethnographic collection and many marvellous classical Hindu-Buddhist artefacts from ancient Java and Sumatra.

Considering the cultural (and monetary) value of most of the treasures, the displays are a little dull and could be presented in a much more engaging way (hopefully this will be the case after the renovation). Currently the signage and labelling are hit and miss, some with small, difficult to read type and not a great deal of information with badly translated English or in the other extreme, reams of text with too much information that was unappealing to read. Regardless the pieces are visually stimulating and our minor quibbles should not prevent you from taking the opportunity to discover some of Southeast Asia’s most outstanding riches. And besides, they do a much better job than most museums in ... Travelfish members only (Around 600 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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National Museum
12 Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat, Jakarta Pusat
Tu–Fr: 08:30–16:00 Sa–Su: 08:30–17:00
T: (0213) 868 172
Admission: 10,000 rupiah for foreigners and 5,000 rupiah for Indonesians

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