The elegant red brick National Archives Museum – otherwise known as Museum Arsip Nasional – located on busy Jalan Gajah Mada, Jakarta, 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, however, Indonesia’s National Archives have been moved to Jalan Ampera in South Jakarta, and the building has become a museum which is open to the public to hold romantic gala dinners and wedding receptions in exquisite heritage setting.
In the year 1900 when there were plans to demolish the building to replace it with a shopping arcade, the Batavia Society for Arts and Sciences (Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen) intervened to save this historic building of Old Batavia, and even donated a number of furniture.
Since 1925 the building was used to house the department of Mining of the Dutch colonial government, and later the State Archives, then called the Lands archief. It was only in 1992 that the Indonesian government moved the archives to South Jakarta at Jalan Ampera.
At the time it was rumored that the building was again to make way for the construction of a shopping mall planned by the family of then President Soeharto. A group of Dutch businessmen who founded the Stichting Cadeau Indonesia (Society for the Gift to Indonesia) decided to collect funds to restore the building as a museum to donate this to the Indonesian government on the country’s 50th Independence Day in 1995.
Restoration efforts were only completed early 1998, and when riots broke out in the area on 13 May 1998, many people took refuge in this old heritage building, which was left understurbed by the rioters.
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.
The National Archives Museum building itself 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 Cirebon, depicting stories from the Bible. A staircase leads to the private quarters on the upper floor.
On the second floor are large rooms, including a dining room (where Hillary Clinton was hosted 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.
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.
In 2001 the National Archives museum received the UNESCO Award of Excellence 2001.
For information contact:
Gedung Arsip Nasional
Jl. Gajah Mada No. 111
Tuesdays – Sundays : 09.00 – 17.00 hrs. The Museum is closed on Mondays. Entry is free of charge.
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