Indonesia is the 4th most populated country in the world with more than 250.000.000 people --- There are 316 ethnic groups which speak 670 dialects in Indonesia --- There are 17.508 islands in Indonesia, which is the largest Archipelago in the world and only 6.000 of them have a name with only 1.000 are inhabited --- If you could spend only 1 day on each island of Indonesia, you would need 48 years to see all of them? (Transportation between islands not counted) --- Indonesia has the longest coastline in the world, with 100.000 kms long --- Indonesia is probably the last country in the world, which has still unexplored territories, and is not completly mapped? (specially around Irian Jaya) --- There are about 400 volcanoes in Indonesia, and 150 out of them are active, which represents 75% of all active volcano on the planet

16.1.09

Travelling to Jakarta - Jakarta Wonder No. 9

Museum Nasional Tested by Time
Text and Photos by Teguh Sudarisman


You might not believe that the origins of Indonesia's National Museum go back to 24 April 1778. That was when the Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen (Batavian Society of Arts & Sciences) was founded in Kalibaru, Kota, by Dutch newcomers who were interested in arts and sciences.

That means that the museum was already here 12 years before the VOC (Netherlands East Indies Company) collapsed and the Dutch government took direct control of Java. It was also 167 years before Indonesia became independent. It's quite amazing that through so many chaotic eras, people have been able maintain a museum, untouched by the passage of time. Even more amazing: the ticket price to see the museum's collections is only Rp 750 for adults and Rp 250 for schoolchildren.


Although the collection of ancient manuscripts and books was transferred to the National Library in 1987, and the art works moved to the National Gallery in 2000, the National Museum still has a collection of 142,000 items that are well worth seeing.

Standing proudly on Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat (opposite Monas), with a neoclassic fa├žade with Doric columns, is the old building. A new seven-story building called Gedung Arca, just north of the old building, was inaugurated last year. Four stories are used as display rooms, with a new classification system and layout.

One interesting item on the second floor is Prasasti Kota Kapur, the Limecity Inscription, a mini obelisk with a carved inscription in Old Malay written in the Pallawa alphabet. The message is a curse upon those who oppose the Sriwijaya Kingdom, which at that time was trying to conquer Java. On the fourth floor, you can see four carved golden bowls portraying the Ramayana legend. They also note that the jewelry shown in a statue of Kertarajasa Jayawardhana, founder of the Majapahit kingdom, is identical to this actual gold jewelry from nearly the same era.

The National Museum may not be the world's greatest museum, but it certainly tells us a lot about Indonesia.


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