The National Museum of Indonesia: History to be Revealed, Legacy to Pass Forward

Story By
Sri Utami
Museum as the spatial storytelling of history in the present time.

Strategically located in Central of Jakarta, in the front yard of the museum there is a renowned statue of an elephant character made of bronze, which titled ‘Ku Yakin Sampai Disana’ I Believe I Can Reach, as the icon of the National Museum. This year the National Museum of Indonesia reaches its 241st Anniversary and has gone through some significant revamp projects in some aspects, specifically building construction, artifact collections and other technical supporting programs. The museum’s long history and background from 1800’s age of enlightenment means that the artifact collections are generally those related to the lives of the Dutch or Europeans who lived and resided in Indonesia.

On August 2019, The museum has around 183,753 collections that have been registered which are categorized into prehistoric, classic Hindu-Buddha archaeology, numismatic and heraldic, ceramic, ethnography, geography and history and is divided into 2 buildings – Building A is the original building where Hindu-Buddha Stone Statue are showcased and Building B, which was officially opened in 2007 by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, is exhibition rooms, storage, library and office. For this issue the team found interesting household artefacts to explore. The preserved utensils were made of clay, wood, bronze and even gold:

The Bride water pitcher or kendi from Tulang Bawang, Lampung is made of clay. This double spouted water pitcher in a bride figurine is a symbol of an eternal marriage. The pitcher is used for marriage processions as well as a remedy case.

Spittoon Betel Set or pekinangan can be found in most of Indonesia’s archipelago. The custom of betel chewing is common in all ethnic groups and carries an important role in various social activities and ceremonies. For both enjoyment and its medical qualities, betel (sirih) leaf and areca (pinang) nut are offered to guests as a gesture of welcome and politeness. Found in Riau, Sumatra before 1913, made of gold.

Ramayana Bowl or Mangkuk Ramayana made of gold. This bowl is considered the masterpiece of the Wonoboyo treasure collection. The entire exterior of this bowl is exquisitely engraved with scenes from the Ramayana epic, ranging from the exile of Rama, Sita and Laksmana, to the abduction of Sita by the ogre Rahwana.

Ceramics or keramik is believed to have cultural and historical aspects, aside from the function, the traditional role and economical value (sea trades). In the museum, visitors will find and observe large collection of ceramics. Sea voyages and trade in South East Asia became a rising international business, which connected the ancient traders of India and China. The collections you will find in the museum originate from India, China, Thailand, Vietnam and Japan.