Located on Medan Merdeka Barat, the National Museum is the pride of Jakarta, providing visitors an insight into Indonesia’s long history in cultural heritage from prehistoric days up to today. Having recently been expanded, the Museum houses an impressive collection of no less than 109,342 objects covering Indonesia’s Prehistory, Archaeology, Ethnography, Numismatics-Heraldic, Geography and Historical Relics.
Here are statues and stone inscriptions discovered on sites throughout the archipelago starting from the first century AD, a complete collection of batik cloths and woven textiles produced through the years in the different islands. While on the top floor one finds displayed the collection of gold and silver ornaments and jewelry once owned by the rajahs and sultans of the archipelago.
The Museum was initiated in 1778 by the Batavia Society for Arts and Science, a private organization whose aim was to promote research in the arts and sciences, especially in the history, archaeology, ethnography of Indonesia and in physics, and published their various findings.
Officially opened in 1868 the Museum came popularly to be known as Gedung Gajah (The House of Elephant) or Gedung Arca (The House of Statues). It was named Gedung Gajah after the bronze elephant statue in the front yard, which was a donation from King Chulalongkorn of Thailand in 1871. It was also known as Gedung Arca on account of the large variety of statues from different periods on display here.
In 1979 the Museum was officially named the Museum Nasional or the National Museum. The Museum is not only a centre for research and study into the national and cultural heritage, but it also functions as an educative, cultural and recreational information centre.