If you are forced to brand Jakarta by the first sight you will probably mention its horrifying transport system and insubstantial character as capitalistic economic centre. So I did a couple of months ago! Every time I entered the city I did almost everything to leave it as soon as possible. Everything changed when I moved there and started to explore this city from different perspectives. Jakarta is namely one of the three predominant art centres (beside Bandung and Yogyakarta) on Java island and therefore definitely worth to be discovered more deeply. For museum lovers Jakarta is doubtless one of the best places to be in Indonesia! But still, Jakarta remains one of Asia’s fastest growing megacities and can be puzzling in the first place. Let me navigate you a bit through Jakarta’s museum-scene and explore with me two of my favourite museums in Jakarta and its best-kept secrets.
For everybody who’s arriving in Jakarta with just a basic knowledge about this huge archipelago you are going to tour around, I highly recommend to visit Jakarta's National Museum. It’s not only a fantastic way to learn more about Indonesia’s Buddhist and Hindu period, but moreover to get a good idea about the richness and diversity from one island to another. Probably you’ll discover some local peculiarities that mesmerise you that much, so that you might rethink and change your travel plans.
Usually the National Museum, based in Jakarta, has a permanent display of over 100.000 artworks and artefacts from Indonesia and Asia dating back to ancient times. However, due to renovation works (since January 2017) in the old wing (gedung gajah = elephant building), only the new part of the museum (gedung arca = building of statues) is accessible until August 2018. Even large sections of the museum are meanwhile not exhibited, the Museum’s collection is the best of its kind in Indonesia, and therefore remains a must-visit. The new wing consists of four levels, which showcases thematically structured permanent exhibitions. Strolling through the museum, you will meet giant stones with ancient inscriptions next to miniature versions of Indonesia's traditional houses. Moreover the museum showcases a typical Papua standing canoe, which was used for headhunting in former times.
On the top floor the collection has another gem to offer: The impressive treasure collection, re-discovered by a farmer in 1990 in Central Java, gives an amazing impression of Indonesia's rich kingdom. Don’t miss out the “keris”-collection, an asymmetrical richly decorated dagger and important status symbol for Javanese men, or the precious betel-set on the same level. A great way how to get out the best of your museum visit in Jakarta is with certainty to join one of the free guided tours in English. Volunteers from the Indonesian Heritage Society offer their time to take you on a journey discovering the history behind some chosen objects within the museum.
FREE English Tours by the Indonesian Heritage Society (Tours are also available in French/Japanese/Korean and other languages on request: +62 21 572 5870 or [email protected])
Finally I’ll take you around the more overlooked, but in my opinion outstanding Textile Museum in Jakarta, which houses more than 2350 textiles from various islands in Indonesia. When you’ll be wandering through Indonesia later on, you’ll definitely recognise the importance of traditional weaving techniques. Whether as part of daily life or its usage as ceremonial object, textiles in Indonesia remain key aspect of the local identity. Batik, one of the highest art forms Indonesia has spawned, is a complicated and lavish wax dying technique. Watch out for Friday, when due to the national Batik-Day, an increased number of Indonesian will put on their best pieces. Colourful and loaded with ornaments the various Batik designs range from traditional motifs, which in the past indicated the social status of the person, until contemporary compositions.
Get lost in the details and differences within multifarious textile-production throughout Indonesia that are displayed here in one Museum. You can learn more about entanglements and cultural influences in Indonesia, which are reflecting in designs and colours, through helpful descriptions in English or through the English-speaking museum guides. For instance the Batik of Madura is not only mirroring its coastal flair through intense colours, but beyond that, interweaving processes between China, Europe, India and Indonesia become manifest in the design. Divided into two buildings Jakarta's Textile Museum displays historical pieces from 1900 running all the way up to present. The complex itself was formerly a private house of a Frenchman, changing ownership several times, it was finally inaugurated as the Textile Museum in 1978.
One of the best parts of the Textile Museum is when the passive learning-process turns into active participation: Check out the pavilion at the backside of the museum to actually make your own batik while joining a workshop. It is not only a lovely small present for home, but more than that, you really start to appreciate the technological expertise and artistic skills within Indonesian Batik production.
After travelling almost whole Southeast Asia I got caught on the Indonesian archipelago, where I now live and study. Why Indonesia? First of all I could get a deeper understanding of the people’s habits and local culture through a scholarship in Westsumatra. Secondly this country just keeps me busy in discovering. With over 17.000 islands and 700 different local languages it will take you a life-time to explore this stunning place on earth! Because of my academic background in Art History and Cultural Anthropology my main focus of interest is definitely everything what is connected to Arts and Culture. Moving between Bandung (where I study) and Jakarta (where I live) I am about to jump into Javas vibrant art scene. So if you are also an artlover and curious with local customs and traditions I am happy to lead you a bit through Indonesias’ art scene!
Best Travel Tech
Content > Grid view
Countries > Grid View
List > Grid View
Posts > Travelista.club
Promos > Travelista.club
Write-for-us > Grid view
Writers > Review