International political history
Published/Last edited or updated: 29th May, 2018
In 1955 Bandung played host to the first large scale meeting of delegates from 29 mostly newly independent Asian and African nations aimed at opposing colonialism and promoting economic and cultural cooperation—the Museum of the Asia Africa Conference (Museum Konferensi Asia Afrika) tells the story behind it.
Major discussions at the Bandung Conference centred on cold war politics and the affect of tensions between the United States, China and Soviet powers on less powerful Asian and African states as well as European colonialism and laid the foundations for the creation of the Non-Aligned Movement in 1961. A ten-point declaration promoting peace and cooperation was adopted unanimously.
To mark the 50th and 60th anniversaries, Asian-African Summits were again staged in 2005 and 2015 in Bandung and Jakarta. Gedung Merdeka (literally “freedom building”) the venue for the conference, has been turned into a small museum dedicated to this historic event.
Symbolically, the building itself was once the meeting place for Bandung’s wealthy colonial elite, the club house and ballroom for the Societeit Concordia who reportedly had a “no natives” policy. The museum displays interesting photographs, quotes and a handful of memorabilia from the event with signage in English and Indonesian. Exhibitions are well lit and well maintained, but you’re in for a lot of reading.
Part of the museum is the curved roof conference room set up much as it would have been at the time, lined with flags from participating nations watched over by Indonesia’s Garuda coat-of-arms. Although the exhibition (and the building itself) resonates with history, there isn’t that much to see. Folks interested in international politics will get more out of the museum than most who will probably just whizz through, however the opportunity to admire the curved lines of this splendid example of modern Tropical Art déco architecture adds to the value of a visit.
The building was partly designed by prominent Indonesian born Dutch architect, C. P Wolff Schoemaker in 1921 with additions made by another of Bandung’s leading proponents of Art déco, Albert Aalbers in 1940. The museum is free to enter and informative guides are sometimes available.
While you’re in the area, check out the many fine examples of Art déco architecture nearby on a city walking tour.
Address: 5 Jalan Asia Afrika, Bandung
T: (0224) 269 0705; F: (0224) 238 031;
Coordinates (for GPS): 107º36'34.06" E, 6º55'17.21" S
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These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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