Opened in 1868, in a grand building on Merdeka Square, Indonesia’s National Museum is one of Jakarta’s most fascinating attractions. A rich collection spanning hundreds of thousands of years covers everything from early hominids to the archipelago’s spectacular range of textiles, along with gold, statuary, and architectural models.The Basics
There is a small charge to enter the National Museum. While you don’t need a guide or a tour to visit, many will find a guide helpful to edit down the vast collection and provide cultural context on the various traditions in different parts of the archipelago. The Indonesian Heritage Society runs free tours in English several mornings a week, or you can join an organized tour.
As an essential introduction to Indonesia’s thousands of islands and cultures, the National Museum is a common stop on Jakarta city tours, Jakarta history tours, and even Jakarta antique tours.Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- A must for fans of history, ethnography, archaeology, and culture, the National Museum is Indonesia’s finest museum.
- The National Museum is undergoing ongoing renovation. Newly renovated exhibits are clearer and more informative than those with old signage.
- This is a large museum. Start at the area that interests you most, be that ethnology, archaeology, textiles, or gold, and work from there.
- The National Museum does not yet have wheelchair ramps.
The National Museum stands proudly on Merdeka Square, one candidate for the center of Jakarta, about 3 miles (5 kilometers) south of Fatahillah Square. To get here using public transport, ride a Transjakarta bus to the Monas (National Monument) stop—or, if you’re planning to explore Jakarta further, consider booking a private driver or joining an organized tour.When to Get There
The National Museum is open from morning until midafternoon Tuesday to Friday, with an extension on Saturdays and Sundays; it’s closed on Mondays. The Indonesian Heritage Society runs free museum tours in English at 10am on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and 1:30pm on Thursday, with other languages available as well.Archaeology at the National Museum
What is now Indonesia played an important, only partially explored role in human evolution. Celebrated finds in the museum include Java Man, an early hominid from the species known as Homo erectus, which may date back a million years, and the controversial Flores Hobbit, which many believe to have been a miniature species of human. The archaeology section of the museum has displays on both.