Indonesia’s authentic and highly-developed art form, Batik, is renowned globally and has been recognized as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. It is an important part of Indonesian culture and is deeply embedded in the everyday lives of Indonesians. The tradition of batik was passed down from generation to generation and has evolved over the centuries from the traditional hand-drawn to a more modern fashion icon.
If you are keen to know more about batik, gain an insight into Indonesian culture, and make your own batik, then these five museums will fit the bill:
1 | National Museum Indonesia, Jakarta
The National Museum of Indonesia, often referred to as the Museum Gajah (Elephant Museum), is located in the Central Jakarta area. It is called the Elephant Museum because the front garden of the museum has a big bronze elephant statue, which was gifted by King Chulalongkorn of Thailand when he visited the museum in 1871. With more than 140,000 collections, ranging from prehistoric, heraldic, colonial, ceramics, and ethnographic collections to other cultural artifacts of prehistoric and colonial times, a museum is definitely a must-visit place on your trip to Jakarta.
Apart from the variety of eerily beautiful and exceptional collections of high historic significance, the museum also convenes traditional dancing classes, kids’ corners, and batik workshops. The batik workshop, facilitated by professional batik artists, shares knowledge, techniques, and skills related to Indonesian batik.
2 | Ullen Sentalu Museum, Yogyakarta
The Ullen Sentalu Museum is located in the Kaliurang Tourism Area, about 25 kilometers away from the city center. It’s been ranked as the best museum in Indonesia by Tripadvisor. Apart from the Mataram heritage collection, it features various collections of paintings, letter archives, photos, traditional musical instruments, and neatly-arranged batik clothes.
The architecture of this museum combines Gothic and Javanese styles to create an exceptional, one-of-a-kind design. Unlike other museums, instead of long written explanations, Ullen Sentalu uses a tour guide or a museum guide who explains the collections to the visitors. There are many types of rooms in this museum, but if you want to understand and learn more about batik, then the Surakarta Vorstendlanden Batik Room and the Pesisiran Batik Room should be your main focus. In these two rooms, you can learn about batik in general, the types and motifs of batik, as well as the history of batik, which is inseparable from the life of Javanese people.
3 | Danar Hadi Batik Museum, Solo
Solo is considered to be the home of batik. One of the museums in Solo where you can explore a fantastic collection of batik is the Danar Hadi Batik Museum. Located in the Solo cultural heritage complex in the Ndalem Wuryaningratan area, the museum features luxurious designs of Javanese aristocratic style and showcases more than 1,000 types of batik collections belonging to different regions and time periods. It is recognized by the Indonesian Record Museum (MURI) as the museum with the biggest collection of batik in Indonesia.
You will get the opportunity to learn the history behind the batik motifs and find out how to tell the difference between original batik and printed batik. But the fun doesn’t stop there. You can also take part in a hands-on batik workshop and make your own batik!
4 | Neka Art Museum Ubud, Bali
Ubud is a small village in Bali, brimming with stunning rural scenery, ethereal architectural beauty, and historical arts, culture, and traditions, but it’s also teeming with museums and art galleries. One of the most attractive museums that you can visit to learn more about batik is Neka Art Museum, Bali. It has a wide collection of paintings, batik, keris, sculptures, and other works of art.
Located in Jalan Raya Campuhan, Kedewatan, Ubud, the Neka Museum’s design is influenced by traditional Balinese architecture, and the museum is very well-maintained and organized. Thus, visitors feel comfortable exploring the museum. It’s definitely the right place to understand and appreciate Balinese art and culture!
5 | Agung Rai Museum, Bali
Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA) is located at a walking distance from the center of Ubud. Officially inaugurated in 1996, ARMA was founded by Agung Rai, who dedicated his life to the preservation and development of Balinese arts and culture. The museum is the ultimate choice for those who want to learn about Indonesian heritage, especially Balinese arts and culture, such as gamelan, batik, Balinese dances, and their history, Balinese food, and wood carvings.
Other than the various displays of collections, ARMA also features numerous events such as traditional dance performances, batik workshops, painting classes, and cultural seminars. You can learn how to make batik by participating in batik workshops.
There is no better way to gain a deeper understanding of Batik and delve into Indonesia’s vibrant culture and history than by visiting the museums. So, immerse yourself in Indonesia’s cultural richness and have a great time making your own batik.
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