The National Museum, Popularly Known As The Elephant Building

The history of the museum started in 24 April 1778 when a group of Dutch scholar and intellectuals in Batavia founding an organization of arts & culture. The name of the organization is Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen. The organization aimed to promote and publish arts and culture research particularly in history, archeology and ethnography.

Museum Gajah (National Museum)
Museum Gajah (National Museum) (Source : jakarta.go.id)

In early 19th century, Dutch General Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles was built a new place in part of the Harmonie building to accommodate the organization in Jalan Majapahit. The organization then named Literary Society. In 1862, the Dutch government was built a new museum building as an office for the organization and displaying the collections. The museum is officially opened in 1868 and known as Gedung Gajah (elephant building) or Gedung Arca (building of statue). The building named Gedung Gajah because of because in the front yard get placed of bronze elephant statue, donated in March 1871 by the first King of Siam kingdom (Thailand) Somdetch Phra Paramarindr Maha Chulalonkorn.

In 29 February 1950, the organization changed to Lembaga Kebudayaan Indonesia (Indonesia Culture Council); and handed over to Indonesia government in 17 September 1962 and the changed to Museum Pusat (Central Museum). Finally in 28 Mei 1979, the museum officially became Museum Nasional (National Museum).

The National Museum has 2 main buildings which are Gedung Museum Nasional (Unit A) displaying collection based on scientifically and material categories, for example there is Prehistoric room or Bronze room; and Gedung Arca (Unit B) displaying collection based on social culture theme. The Gedung Arca are divided into 4 floor, the first floor is about human and environment, the second floor is about science and technology, the third floor is about human settlement and society and the fourth floor is about treasure and ceramics.

Museum Gajah (National Museum)
Inside the Museum Gajah (National Museum) (Source : museumnasional.or.id)

Generally, collections in the National Museum can be classified into 7 categories, which are Archeology, Ceramics, Ethnography, Prehistoric, Geography, History and Heraldic & Numismatics. All of these collections are able to see in 9 different rooms; which are Bronze room, Ceramics room, Ethnography room, History room, Heraldic & Numismatics room, Prehistoric room, Stone Statue room, Treasure room and Textile room.

The National Museum has 141.899 items of collection (2015), which makes it as the biggest museum in Indonesia and South East Asia. The oldest Buddha’s statue collection is Dipangkara statue which sealed in Bronze room. The oldest Hindu’s statue is Wisnu Cibuaya statue from 4th century, placed in Statue room.

How to get there?

The National Museum is located in Jalan Merdeka Barat 12, Jakarta Pusat. The location is nearby Monas (National Monument) site.

Administrator office

Museum Nasional
Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat 12
Jakarta Pusat

Public transportation

  • Trans Jakarta bus way Blok M – Kota
  • Ticket price: 3,500 IDR

Travel tips

  • Visitors are kindly asked to refrain from smoking, eating and drinking in all areas of the Museum, and are prohibited from touching the exhibits.
  • The National museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday.
  • Monday and public holiday is closed.
  • Tuesday to Thursday is open from 8.30 am – 2.30 pm.
  • Friday is open from 8.30 am – 11.30 am.
  • Saturday is open from 8.30 am – 1.30 pm.
  • Entrance fee: 5,000 IDR (2015); student & under 17 years old: 2500 IDR (2015).

Tours

The Indonesian Heritage Society conducts tours of the Museum at the following times :
English: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 9.30 am & LAST SUNDAY of every month at 10.30 am.
Japanese: Tuesday 10 am and FIRST SUNDAY of every month at 10 am.
German: Thursday 10 am.

The times and dates of guided tours in Dutch and French can be obtained by contacting the Indonesian Heritage Society Office at Museum Nasional.

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