As a long time resident of Jakarta, I am ashamed to admit that it took me very long to have finally visited the National Museum of Indonesia, or Museum Nasional, in Jakarta. This is one of those well-known attractions that is relatively close from my home, but I never got around to visiting the place. Well, that finally changed when one Sunday afternoon I got the urge to visit the museum and see what’s up.
Entrance tickets to the Museum Nasional in Jakarta.
The National Museum of Indonesia is located in the center of Jakarta, right across the National Monument (Monas). Local people sometimes refer it to as the Elephant Building, or Gedung Gajah, or Museum Gajah. This name refers to the statue of the elephant, which was a gift from the royal family of Thailand and is situated in the courtyard right in front of the building.
The National Museum consists of two buildings. The first building houses a large ceramics collection, many stone statues dating back to the Buddhist and Hindu ages of Java, Sumatra, and Bali, and various other relics. Additionally, many Indonesian native groups get their own section that explains some of their history, culture and customs. The building right next to it was more focused on explaining the rise of man, tools used throughout the ages, and other aspects of sociological origins and culture.
I would have loved if each major cultural and ethnic group in Indonesia (Javanese, Balinese, Papuan, Dayak, etc.) received their own wing to display more of their history, arts, culture, etc. But it was fine for what it was. The Papuan relics, charms, tools, and arts were most interesting for me because I am the least familiar with them. It was a great moment to learn more about these people and their culture. I think more effort could have gone into creating a narrative, tying all this information together, but hopefully that will happen in the future.
Overall, the National Museum of Indonesia is definitely worth a day or half-day trip. The entrance fee was quite affordable (IDR 5.000 for locals, and IDR 10.000 for foreigners) and the museum is well-maintained, organized and quite interesting. Perfect for a visit of a few hours.