West Java’s provincial museum
Museum Negeri Sri Baduga is West Java’s provincial museum, and like many of its kind in Indonesia ticks the boxes of dusty (check) with dated displays (check), yet full of fascinating curiosities worthy of your time and effort to see (check) (although to be fair it is far less dusty than some we have seen).
The museum lays three kilometres due south of Bandung Railway Station, a little off the main tourist drag, in a building that references a traditional Sundanese (the main ethic group in West Java) stilted house and is named for the King of Pajajaran, a 15th-16th century Hindu Sundanese kingdom, whose capital corresponds to modern-day Bogor.
Legend tells that this king, Sri Baduga Maharaja (Prabu Siliwangi) was killed in battle defending the kingdom’s honour against the Majahpahit Kingdom in Trowulan, East Java when what was supposed to have been a wedding ceremony for his daughter to King Hayam Wuruk turned to violence (turns out she was to be a mere concubine and not the Queen). To this day the Sundanese are some of the few Indonesians who do not revere the Majahpahit Kingdom as one of Indonesia’s greatest.
The museum itself showcases Sundanese history and culture beginning with early archeological remains. Most of the signage is in Indonesian, but enough of the descriptions are in both Indonesian and English to gain a good overview. The initial exhibition displays replicas of early inscribed stones along with some very interesting crude stone carvings of Ganesh and ancestor spirits.
A replica of Pawon cave (Gua Pawon), an archaeological site at Gunung Masigit, west of Bandung is complete with skeletal remains of early Homo sapiens and other details and information of early man in the region include a replica of a jar burial. Other showcases include a few sad stuffed examples of West Javanese fauna and geology displays (although if you are really interested in rocks, visits the Museum Geologi).
The upper floors of the museum exhibit an ethnographic overview of the region, and it’s here we found particularly fascinating with exhibitions dedicated to religion, various manuscripts, costume, agriculture and the arts. Look for the beautiful glass paintings with Islamic calligraphy, ancient wooden calendars and a tableau of a classroom from the Dutch colonial era.
Costumed mannequins and furnishings offer insight into Sunda’s tempoe doeloe (olden days) and for lovers of traditional arts, gorgeous fine batik and collections of wayang golok (a type of wooden puppet) will delight. You won’t miss the rather odd, and very large golden stringed harp-like musical instrument with the head of a tiger at one end, and a pipe-smoking dragon at the other (at least that’s what it looks like it’s doing). Also check out the similarly strange winged elephant/loin headed carriage in a glass cabinet outside the museum.
Museum Negeri Sri Baduga is not so big and won’t take more than an hour but we’d wait until you returned to your accommodation if you need to use the facilities—they are not the cleanest we’ve encountered.
Address: 185 Jalan BKR, Bandung
T: (0225) 210 976; F: (0225) 223 214;
Coordinates (for GPS): 107º36'12.01" E, 6º56'14.71" S
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Admission: 3,000 rupiah
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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