Published/Last edited or updated: 28th May, 2018
Bandung’s Museum Geologi offers engaging and well presented displays on Indonesia’s earth sciences and natural history, a good diversion for an hour or two and a great place to take the kids, though, while this is an excellent museum by local standards, don’t expect the likes of the Metropolitan or British Museum.
The collection is housed in one wing of an extensive colonial Art déco building, designed by Dutch architect H. Menalda van Schouwenburg in 1928 as Geologisch Laboratorium, a geological research facility—take your time to look around at the Art déco details. Four main galleries are open to the public extending over two floors dedicated to the “Geology of Indonesia”, “History of Life”, “Geological Resources” and the oddly titled “Geological Benefits of Disasters”.
The main entrance displays a fascinating fossilised elephant skeleton (Elephas hysudrindicus), discovered at Blora, Central Java, but many of the other skeletons on display throughout the museum, including skulls of early Java Man are replicas. Here a brief history of the museum building is presented in English and Indonesian, but unfortunately much of the rest of the museum is in Indonesian only, although some is translated and there is enough visual interest to still make it a worthwhile visit.
The West Wing displays an extensive collection of rocks and minerals including meteorites with exhibitions on the formation of the earth and tectonics, much as you would see in many science museums. Particularly interesting is the exhibition on the Morphological Landforms of Indonesia with a collection of rocks denoting the diverse land formations they have been taken from and photographs indicating where on a map of Indonesia they can be found—handy inspiration for travel planning to see unusual geological phenomena around Indonesia’s ring of fire.
Although interesting, the History of Life gallery in the East Wing is fairly standard science museum stuff on the subject of evolution with little information in English, but an excellent collection of fossils and the replicas of Java Man (Homo Erectus) are worth a look, and kids will get a kick out of the T-Rex skeleton replica as well as a collection of real skeletons and bones.
Upstairs, the Geological Resources gallery is a darkened room with mood lighting and wiz-bang exhibits which seem more like mining industry propaganda, possibly of interest but all in Indonesian although it’s easy enough to work out the names of rocks from scientific descriptions.
The Geological Benefits of Disasters presents an exhibition which we found engaging, displaying rocks alongside beautiful Indonesian artefacts made for the minerals—iron ore alongside a kris, tin and copper ore with a bronze moko drum as well as lumps of various other rock with beautiful carvings made from the same material. In the same gallery, an earthquake simulator wasn’t working on our visit, but a volcanic dust covered collection of everyday objects salvaged from the Gunung Merapi volcano explosion brings home the reality of living in (or visiting) Indonesia’s ring of fire, although again nothing is in English the visuals are self explanatory.
In the museum grounds, outdoor exhibitions display a collection of petrified wood as well as larger rocks. A small souvenir shop sells rocks in the form of jewellery and a few T-shirts, although small it’s better than most museum shops in Indonesia. The museum is not huge, but has plenty to hold your interest for an hour, and makes an excellent diversion if you get caught in a rainstorm. It gets busy on weekends and midweek can be overrun with excited school children.
English speaking guides are available via prior arrangement. While you’re in the area, don’t miss Gedung Sate with its excellent Museum Gedung Sate and if it’s still raining, pop into the Museum Pos Indonesia.
Address: 57 Jalan Diponegoro, Bandung
T: (0227) 203 822; F: (0227) 213 934;
Coordinates (for GPS): 107º37'16.18" E, 6º54'2.98" S
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Admission: 10,000 rupiah for foreigners
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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