Here are the Facts You Might Not Know About the National Museum of Indonesia that Burned Last Saturday Night


PROGRES.ID – The National Museum, located on Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat, Central Jakarta, has attracted attention after a fire incident on Saturday night (September 16, 2023) at 8:00 PM WIB. The National Museum, also known as the Elephant Museum, is not only a place for research but also a highly popular historical tourist destination for visitors from both within and outside the country.

Let’s delve into the history, collections, and interesting facts related to the National Museum:

  1. A Long History
    The history of the National Museum dates back to 1778 when the Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen initiated the establishment of this museum. Initially, the museum’s collection consisted of donations from Jacob Cornelis Radermacher, along with his house. Over time, this collection continued to grow, and in 1862, the Dutch government officially established the museum. The National Museum of Indonesia, as we know it today, was formally opened in 1868. The museum building was designed in a classical style that incorporates 18th-century European architectural elements.
  2. One of the Largest Museums in Southeast Asia
    The National Museum is one of the largest museums in Southeast Asia and boasts an exceptional collection that represents Indonesia’s cultural richness. Covering an area of 26,500 square meters, the museum consists of two main buildings. Building A is used for exhibitions and housing collections, while Building B, also known as the Arca Building, serves as offices, conference rooms, laboratories, and a library. Building B was officially inaugurated by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on June 20, 2007.
  3. Impressive Bhairawa Statues
    The National Museum captivates visitors with a wide array of artifacts, including ancient sculptures, inscriptions, ceramics, textiles, numismatics, historical relics, rare books, and other valuable items. Currently, the museum houses over 140,000 diverse collections. One of the main attractions is the Bhairawa statue, the tallest statue in the National Museum, standing at a height of 414 cm. This statue represents Dewa Lokeswara or Avalokitesvara, a Bodhisattva regarded as the Buddha’s light in the world. The statue depicts a male figure standing on a row of skulls, holding a skull cup in the left hand, and a short dagger with an Arabic style in the right hand. It is believed to date from the 13th to 14th century and was found in Padang Roco, West Sumatra.
  4. Role in Education and Culture
    In addition to its collections, the National Museum actively engages in educational and cultural activities. Visitors can gain new knowledge through seminars, discussions, special exhibitions, and workshops often held here. These activities not only enrich visitors’ knowledge but also provide unforgettable experiences each time they visit the museum. A notable example is the International Panji Festival in 2018, which covered eight cities in Indonesia, with the National Museum as the opening venue.
  5. Iconic Elephant Statue
    The National Museum is known as the Elephant Museum due to the presence of the iconic elephant statue in front of the building. This bronze elephant statue was a gift from King Chulalongkorn of Thailand (formerly Siam) in 1871. Although the museum’s official name is the National Museum of the Republic of Indonesia, the nickname “Museum Gajah” remains popular among Jakarta residents. This elephant statue has become the mascot and symbol of this beautiful museum.

Despite the tragic fire incident, we hope that the National Museum will recover and continue to enlighten society with its invaluable cultural heritage.




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