The National Museum of Indonesia houses prehistoric and historical items from all over Indonesia and Asia. Referred to locally as Museum Nasional, it is easily one of the must-visit stopovers for history buffs touring the large collection of historical sites spread throughout the capital city. It is hard to miss, just west of the ‘Monas’ national monument and right beside the Indonesian Ministry of Defence building.
One of the distinguishable features of the National Museum is a bronze elephant statue decorating its façade, which was a gift from Siamese King Chulalongkorn in 1871. This gave way to its local nickname, Museum Gajah, aka ‘elephant museum’. Inside are grand exhibition halls showcasing collections of ancient Hindu-Buddhist era stone sculptures (the largest in Southeast Asia), and ethnographic collections covering different cultures from all over Indonesia.
The museum itself is over two centuries old, established in 1778 as a scientific initiative by a group of Dutch intellectuals known as the Royal Batavian Society of Arts and Sciences. Its initial collection was scientific books and literature but then gradually grew with time with archaeological findings and ethnographic objects from Sumatra to Papua. The vast collection of ancient sculptures in its collection also earned it another moniker, Gedung Arca or ‘building of statues’.
Staff and curators offer tours, while language specific tours are scheduled at different days from 09:30. English tours are each second and last Saturday every month. French tours are provided every third Wednesday of the month and Korean and Japanese tours every first Tuesday. Refreshments are available at a basement level canteen, and you can grab a souvenir at the ground floor. The National Museum is closed on Mondays, and admission is only IDR 5,000 for adults and IDR 2,000 for children.
National Museum of Indonesia
- Opening Hours: Tue – Sun 08:00 – 16:00
- Location: Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat No.12, Central Jakarta
- Tel: +62 (0)21 386 817 2