By Thibaud (Jakarta100bars) →
I visited almost every museums in Jakarta this year (I'm only missing the TNI Satria Mandala Museum and the Galeri Nasional Indonesia). The idea of this review is to give you my recommendations on the best museums to visit and the ones to avoid. I also wrote individual articles for each with a full description, just click on the name of the venues to read it.
Contrary to what people might tell you, most are interesting and worth your time. They are a good introduction to Indonesian history and culture, and at the same time they give you an opportunity to explore authentic neighborhoods.
The entrance ticket for each museum is very cheap, usually between Rp2,000 and Rp20,000. You can refer to the opening and closing hours on each separate reviews. All museums are rather small and you'll often need only a couple hours to visit them.
English explanations are not always available. I don't think it's a big problem: Just take pictures and notes, then find out more on wikipedia from home. You can also visit the museums with a guide. The best tours are organized by the Indonesian Heritage Society. For more information: Jakarta Museum Tours.
Which Jakarta museums to visit in 1 day?
If you have only 1 day of sightseeing available, I would advise you to visit in priority the National Museum first and then head to Kota Tua (the Old City) where you'll find the Bank Indonesia Museum and the Jakarta History Museum. Both areas can easily be reached with the Transjakarta busway.
This is the ranking of the best museums in Jakarta, based on my visits:
Easily the best museum in Indonesia. It features quite a large collection of statues, masks and artefacts from all over the archipelago. A great introduction to the different cultures of the country. You'll need at least 3-4 hours inside to see everything properly.
I didn't have any expectations when visiting this museum, yet it turned out to be one of the most interesting I've been to. Don't be turned off by the word "bank". The museum is more about the history of trade in Indonesia, starting from before the colonization. It is just 100 meters from Taman Fatahillah.
This is the main museum on Taman Fatahillah square. It is housed in a beautiful colonial building that served as the City Hall of Batavia during Dutch times. As the name suggests, it is about the history of Jakarta, starting from prehistoric times. The visit is a bit short and hopefully they'll add more things to see in the future.
4) Museum of the Indonesian Constitution (at the Supreme Court)
Opened by President Jokowi in 2015, this is the newest and most modern museum in Jakarta. It is a nationalist museum, telling the story of how the Indonesian constitution was created. Still, you'll learn a lot about Indonesia's recent history. It makes you realize the profound gap between the hopes of the founders of the Nation and the harsh reality. You'll also get to see the Indonesian Supreme Court. Advanced reservation is required.
This museum is similar in its purpose with the Indonesian Constitution Museum. It focuses on the history of the birth of the Indonesian independence movement. It is located in the ex-STOVIA doctors' school and as such, you'll also find information about the early medicine in Indonesia.
The main art museum in Indonesia, with a collection of paintings from contemporary and older artists. Too many replicas unfortunately. It is part of the museums of Taman Fatahillah square.
Considering Indonesia has over 17,000 islands, the Museum Bahari (or Maritime Museum) could probably be improved. Currently, it feels it is in need of refurbishment. Still, I enjoyed my visit, which was a quick stop on my way to Sunda Kelapa, because of the location in an old Dutch warehouse and because I learned quite a few things about the history of Indonesia. The neighborhood was great too (fish market of Luar Batang) but the government evicted local residents recently and I haven't been there again since.
I did visit this museum but I haven't written a review about it yet. It is set in a beautiful property with a relaxing garden. There are some explanations on how Indonesian fabrics are made, particularly batiks. You can see a large collection of beautiful ones but it can be quite repetitive after a while. It is not too far from Central Jakarta, just after Tanah Abang Market.
This is a small museum with barely anything on display, yet it is worth a stop as the building is one of the nicest in Jakarta. It used to be the residence of the Governor General of the VOC.
10) Museum Wayang
The Museum Wayang is recommended by most tourist guides but I found it quite boring. There are almost no explanations in English and the place is not well-maintained. Not recommended unless you have a fascination for wayangs, puppets and masks.
The only positive thing about the Bank Mandiri Museum is its location, inside a Dutch colonial building. Apart from that, most of the things on displays are old ATMs, old typewriters, old computers, etc.
12) Museum Taman Prasasti
I still have to write this review as well. Anyway, this "museum" is actually an old Dutch graveyard and not a proper Museum, despite its name. It's not a bad place though and if you pass by, it won't hurt you to have a look.
Not visited yet:
Museum Galeri National Indonesia: This museum of art will be next on my list when I go back to Jakarta in September.
Musée Satriamandala: A military museum that belongs to the Indonesian TNI (Army). Apparently it's fun for kids.
A1 Museum: A private contemporary art museum.
Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara (MACAN): As announced by the NY Times, the MACAN is set to open in 2017. It is owned by the billionnaire Haryanto Adikoesoemo and will feature its private collection of artworks. It can probably become the best museum in Jakarta then.