There are several museums in Jakarta, including the National Museum, which houses a large collection of Indonesian antiques, cultural displays, and one of the world's finest Asian porcelain collections; Museum Wayang, which houses a collection of puppets representing various regions and eras in Indonesia; the Museum of the Armed Forces; the Adam Malik Museum, containing items belonging to the famous statesman; the Ceramic Museum; and the Jakarta Historical Museum.

Puna Bhakti Museum has a collection of gifts given to Suharto over the years, including a four-poster bed craved from jade). Textile Museum (in Tanah Abang) boast an excellent collection of clothes and textile from all over Indonesia. Museum Purma Bakti Pertiwi has an even better collection fo textiles. Fatahillah Museum (Kota) features works by modern artists. Also worth seeing are the National Archives and the Fine Arts Museum.

One of the most popular organizations in Jakarta for those who are interested in learning more about Indonesian culture is the Indonesian Heritage Society. Members engage in research using their extensive library and participation in study groups. Study groups are formed around areas of interest. In recent years they have included ones for textiles, ceramics, wayang and batik. [Source:]

Wayang Museum (on the western side of Taman Tatahillah Square in the "Old Town" of Kota) is a puppetry museum with the finest collection of hand-carved and hand-painted shadow puppets in Indonesia. Puppetry is very important in Indonesian folk culture. Shows using the leather and wood puppets and shortened performances of the Wayang Kulit are given on Sunday morning. There are also puppets from China, India, Malaysia and Cambodia.

National Museum

National Museum (western side of Merdaka Square) has a fine collection of prehistoric, archaeological and ethnographic artifacts, crafts and everyday items used by Indonesia’s diverse ethnic groups, and relics which includes an interesting collection of money used on the islands. There are first rate collections of bronze and stone Buddhist sculpture, ancient Indonesian textiles and Chinese ceramics. There is a special treasure room, with a number of gold objects. In the central courtyard are number of large, fascinating sculptures. The museum is often called the "Elephant Building" because a huge stone elephant, a gift from Thailand, sits on the front lawn of the building.

Having recently been expanded, the museum houses 109,342 objects. Among them are statues and stone inscriptions discovered on sites throughout the archipelago dating the A.D. first century and a comprehensive collection of batik cloths and woven textiles produced over the years on the different islands. On the top floor there are collections of gold and silver ornaments and jewelry once owned by the rajahs and sultans of the archipelago. There is an extensive collection of Chinese artifacts and relics which date as far back to the Han Dynasty and include stuff from the Tang and Ming Dynasties.

The National Museum began in 1778 when the Batavia Society for Arts and Science, a private organization, was formed to promote research in the arts and sciences, especially in the history, archaeology, ethnography of Indonesia and in physics, and published their various findings. Officially opened in 1868 the Museum came popularly to be known as Gedung Gajah (The House of Elephant) or Gedung Arca (The House of Statues). It was named Gedung Gajah after the bronze elephant statue in the front yard, which was a donation from King Chulalongkorn of Thailand in 1871. It was also known as Gedung Arca on account of the large variety of statues from different periods on display here.

Museum curators provide detailed information and guidance on collections-related subjects during working hours. While daily activities at the Museum Nasional include the collection, the caring for and protection of collections, and providing information on the museum and its collections to visitors and the public at large. The Indonesian Heritage Society (HIS) voluntarily assists the museum in handling the inventory of the collections.

In 1979 the Museum was officially named the Museum Nasional or the National Museum. The Museum is not only a center for research and study into the national and cultural heritage, but it also functions as an educative, cultural and recreational information centre. The Indonesian Heritage Society conducts tours and publishes a National Museum Guidebook. There is a small gift shop located at the entrance hall which has the same opening hours as the Museum. It offers a selection of books, postcards and reproductions of various exhibits. Opening Times: Museum Nasional is open from 8.30 am to 2.30 pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, from 8.30 am to 11.30 am on Friday, and from 8.30 am to 1.30 pm on Saturday. The Museum is closed on Monday and Public Holidays. Admission charges are Rp750 for Adults and Rp250 for Students and Children below 17 years of age.

Getting There: The National Museum is located at Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat 12 Central Jakarta, right the opposite of Monas. You can ride a TransJakarta bus and stop at Monas terminal. It's only about 200 meters from there to the Museum. Contact information: Tel. (62 21) 381-1551 / 386-8172, fax: (62 21) 381-1076, E mail:, Website:

Jakarta History Museum

Jakarta History Museum (in the "Old Town" of Kota) is housed within the old town hall of Batavia, regarded as the best kept and representative building from the Dutch colonial era. The bell-towered hall was built on 1627 and added to in 1707 and 1710. It once held courts and prisons. Prince Diponegoro was kept here in 1830. Most of the exhibits fittingly enough relate to the Dutch colonial period.

The Jakarta History Museum displays the history of Jakarta from prehistoric times to the founding of the town of Jayakarta in1527 by Prince Fatahillah of Banten, and through Dutch colonization from the 16th. century onwards until Indonesia’s Independence in 1945. The collection includes a replica of the Tugu Inscription that dates back to the 5th century under the reign of the great King Purnawarman, evidence that the center of the Tarumanegara kingdom was located around the present day seaport of Tanjung Priok.

Historical evidence of a thriving Sunda Kelapa Harbour is a 16th. century map and replica of the 1522 Padrao monument, commemorating the friendship treaty between the Portuguese and the Sunda kingdom. There are also maps and drawings that show the establishment of the City of Jayakarta in 1527 by Prince Fatahillah and a rich collection of Betawi and colonial style furniture dating to the 17th, 18th and 19th century which reflects the influences of various cultural elements on the City of Batavia, namely from Europe, especially from the Netherlands, and from China, India and Indonesia itself.

To bring more life and activities to the Old Batavia area, the Jakarta Government has organized activities involving local communities and their cultures. On Sundays, shows are performed that have presented the Zapin dance, a combination of Betawi and Middle Eastern influences, the Barongsai Chinese lion dance, Portuguese-influenced keroncong music, typical Betawi Tanjidor music, batik fashion shows, vintage cars parades, food and souvenirs and fireworks.

Getting There and Contact: The address of the Museum is: Jakarta History Museum, Jl. Taman Fatahillah No. 1 West Jakarta, Tel. (62 21) 692-9101 / 690-1483, fax: (62 21) 690-2387. To get there, you can use the TransJakarta bus going to Kota from Blok-M (Corridor 1). Stop at the last terminal, Kota. From there is walk of a couple of blocks to the museum.

Fatahillah Jakarta Museum

Fatahillah Jakarta Museum (in Old Batavia and known as Fatahillah Museum) is housed in the former City Hall located in the old part of the city now known as Jakarta Kota, about hundred meters behind the port and warehouses of Sunda Kelapa.

Originally called the Stadhuis, this building was the administrative headquarters of the Dutch East India Company, and later of the Dutch Government. Built in 1710 by Governor General van Riebeeck, it housed office used b administrators and police. Under the building was a notorious prison with filthy water-flooded cells. Prisoners, Dutch rebels and Indonesian “natives” were publicly flogged, and in some case impaled and executed on the square called the Stadhuisplein — now known today as Fatihillah Square — in some cases while Dutch overlords looked down on the proceedings below from the portico and windows above.

Indonesia’s freedom fighter Javanese Prince Diponegoro was imprisoned here in 1830 before being banished to Manado in North Sulawesi. Another freedom fighter, Untung Suropati from East Java, was imprisoned here around 1670. In the center of the square is a fountain which served as water supply for the colonial capital, Batavia, while to its north is a Portuguese cannon, believed to be a font of fertility.

National Archives Museum

National Archives Museum (on busy Jalan Gajah Mada and also known as the Museum Arsip Nasional) is an elegant red brick structure and one of the finest colonial buildings in Jakarta. It once housed the Dutch colonial Archives, and was originally the 18th century residence of the Dutch East Indies Company’s (VOC) Governor General Reinier de Klerk.

Today, the building is managed by a private institute, but remains open to the public and is often used for elegant garde parties and gala dinners to host visiting international leaders. On the second floor are large rooms, including a dining room (where Hillary Clinton was given a dinner during one of her visits to Jakarta). Here one can see old maps of Batavia, and the bedroom of Governor General Reinier de Klerk. In 2001 the National Archives museum received the UNESCO Award of Excellence 2001.

The National Archives Museum building is constructed in a U shape with annexes added in its back gardens. The main red brick bulding has two floors with a high roof. Its main axis is west to east and its second axis is north-south. It has a wide ground floor. Its main door is beautifully carved and has holes for ventilation. Here was the main drawing room of the governor general where he met his guests. Today there are still a collection of antique furniture and an arsenal of guns.

On the ground floor can also be seen ceramic tiles similar to those found in the Palace of the Kasepuhan in Ceribon, depicting stories from the Bible. A staircase leads to the private quarters on the upper floor. The two side structures were used as administrative offices. And at the back were the slave quarters and store rooms, now housing artefacts on the history of the building. The back garden is quite extensive and has old cannons on each side. There is also a bell called the slave bell to awaken the slaves to work.

For information contact: Gedung Arsip Nasional, Jl. Gajah Mada No. 111 Jakarta, Tel. (021) 6347744. Operating hours Tuesdays — Sundays : 9.00 — 17.00 hrs. The Museum is closed on Mondays. Entry is free of charge.

Bank of Indonesia Museum

The Bank of Indonesia Museum (in Old Bavaria near Fatahillah Plaza) displays the role of the Central Bank in the history of the Indonesian archipelago since Dutch colonial days. Built in 1828, the neo-classical white building the museum is housed in mixes elegant Indonesian and European features. It originally a hospital, called the Binnen Hospitaal, and later was home of the central bank of the East Indies: De Javasche Bank. The museum is located by Old Batavia’s main Fatahillah Plaza, next to the Bank Mandiri Museum, opposite the Beos Station, at Jalan Pintu Besar Utara No. 3, in present day West Jakarta.

After Indonesia’s Independence in 1945 De Javasche Bank was nationalized and became the Bank Indonesia, Indonesia’s central bank. In 1962, the Bank Indonesia was moved to its present location at Jalan Thamrin and the building it used to be in was left empty. But because of its location and historic significance, Bank Indonesia’s Board decided to make it into the Bank of Indonesia Museum, which was opened in December 2006 and officially inaugurated by President Bambang Yudhoyono on 21 July 2009.

This Museum provides information on the role of the central bank in the nation’s history, stretching as far back as the time before the arrival of European traders to the archipelago in the 17th century to the formation of Bank Indonesia in 1953. It also has information about policies made by the Bank and their impact on the national financial position until 2005.

Most of the displays are high-tech with multi-media electronic displays, touch screen television monitors and dioramas with parabolic speakers. An effort is made provide clear and simple explanations for complicated financial issues. Besides this, there is also a numismatic collection of old coins, banknotes and money used by ancient Indonesian kingdoms and the Dutch and Europeans.

The Bank of Indonesia Museum is open from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm daily except Mondays and national holidays. Entrance is free. The museum had good air conditioning and is a good place to visit on hot days. Above the main entrance is a work of stained glass art by Dutch artist Ian Schouten Prinsenhof, which consists of 155 panels. Further inside is a theater that regularly shows films about minting, printing of money and the distribution of money. One room has dioramas showing business scenes in Old Batavia such as traders making transactions in the Bank. Here you can also see the Bank vaults and safes securely closed by thick steel doors. In the numismatic collection magnifying glasses available if you want to see the displays up close.

Bank Mandiri Museum

The Bank Mandiri Museum (near the Bank of Indonesia Museum) is different from its next door neighbor, which showcases the monetary history of the Indonesian archipelago. The Bank Mandiri Museum displays the interior of an actual Bank as it was in days gone by. The Bank Mandiri Museum is located on Jalan Lapangan Stasiun No. 1 facing Jakarta’s Fatahillah Museum across the Plaza, which is now known as Jalan Lapangan Stasiun or the Station Square.

Originally housing the Nederlandsche Handels Maatshappij (NHM) — or the Dutch Trading Company. which later grew into a banking corporation, the museum covers an area of 10,039 square meters, and has a total floor space of 21,509 square meters. The building was designed by Dutch architects, J.J.J. de Bruyn, A.P. Smits, and C. Van de Linde. In 1960 after Indonesia’s Independence, NHM was nationalized and its building was used as the office of the Cooperative Bank for Farmers and Fishermen, the BKTN, which became the Exim Bank in 1968. In in 1999, the government merged the Exim Bank with the National Trade Bank (BDN) and the National Development Bank (Bapindo) to become the present Bank Mandiri.

Standing guard at the main entrance are two “guards” in colonial uniform from the early 1900s. Entering the lobby of this imposing building one feels instantly drawn back to a previous era. The lobby itself is paved with original old-style, shining black, grey and red tiles that still cover the entire floor. This is the ground floor where daily transactions were held. A long counter with mannequins stands where tellers used to serve their customers.

Artefacts connected with the banking world such as old typewriters, deposit certificates, shares, telephones, telegraph machines and counting machines are on display. In the center of the hall are two large books (Grootboek) from NHM time showing company accounts between 1833-1837. On the right hand side is an area that was reserved for Chinese clients. Because many Chinese owned large plantations and trading companies, the Bank decided to set aside a special area for the Chinese. In fact, during the Dutch colonial period, the Chinese were classified as “aliens” who were of a higher rank than indigenous Indonesians, but were below the Dutch and Europeans.

Climbing the stairs to the upper floor one sees a beautiful stained glass artwork depicting the four seasons of Summer, Autumn, Spring and Winter and the famous Dutch captain Cornelis de Houtman, the first Dutch captain to land on Indonesian soil. On the second floor are elegant offices of the Bank Directors, a library, and a display of uniforms for security personnel. There is also an old elevator with a glass window that still works, although now equipped with a modern engine. In the basement are the bank vaults with heavy steel doors imported from Holland. Here there a room depicting Batavia in olden days. There is an old bicycle, a grandfather’s clock and a video on life in Old Batavia. Behind the building is a large lawn which now serves as a children’s playground.

The Museum is open to the public Tuesdays to Sundays, from 9.00am to 04.00 pm, and is closed on Mondays. The entrance fee is Rp.2,000 but is free of charge for Bank Mandiri ATM card holders. The address is Museum Bank Mandiri, Jl. Lapangan Stasiun No. 1 Jakarta Kota, Tel. (021) 6902000. If the Trans Jakarta Busway get off at Jakarta Kota. An underpass from the Kota Busway station leads directly to the Bank Mandiri Museum.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Indonesia Tourism website ( ), Indonesia government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Japan News, Yomiuri Shimbun, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in August 2020

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