National Museum of Indonesia

Permanent Exhibition

What do you think at a glance when someone mentions a national museum? Perhaps it will be a huge place with a ton of the country's collections. Correct! In National Museum of Indonesia, you could explore anything regarding Indonesian culture and tradition, furthermore amazed with Indonesia magnificence.

In terms of building structure, National Museum of Indonesia is divided into Building A and Building B. Furthermore, Building C is still under construction.

As additional information, many people think this museum's name is Elephant Museum due to there being a small elephant statue in front of Building A, however the statue actually was a present from Thai King when visited Indonesia.

Furthermore, National Museum of Indonesia attempted to change the image of the museum name. So that, in the middle of Building A and B there is Ku Yakin Sampai Disana Statue with a waveform made of bronze by I Nyoman Nuarta with the meaning of three dimensions of life that are divided into past, present and future. Past has meaning we will always respect Indonesian culture, present has meaning we are trying preserve Indonesian culture and future has meaning we will always optimistic with the future of Indonesian culture. Moreover, in front of Building B there is Museum Nasional big wording in red color to make anyone who passed this museum realize this is National Museum of Indonesia.

The first collection that we could explore in Building A is Ganesh Statue. This statue is located in the middle of the room that leads to the open space of Nandi's Park.

GaneshShiva’s son, is the god of knowledge, wisdom and the remover of obstacles. It is for this reason that his image is found in dangerous places.

His trunk unceasingly draws up the delights from an inexhaustible bowl - for some the symbol of an endless thirst of knowledge - that he holds in his left fore-hand, while the others hold respectively an axe (his other left hand).

Perhaps you will be confused why the embodiment of God Ganesh has an elephant head with a human body? It is said that God Ganesh was born from the Goddess Parvati's skin, then when God Shiva met God Ganesh they did not realize their relationship. Furthermore, due to at that time God Ganesh forbade God Shiva to meet Goddess Parvati who did not want to be disturbed by anyone at that time, there was an argument between them. After God Shiva cut off God Ganesh’s head and threw it away, Goddess Parvati was angry and ordered God Shiva to find the head of their child. Unfortunately, due to it having been thrown far away, God Shiva could not find the head of God Ganesh, then when God Shiva saw the elephant, the head of the elephant was beheaded to replace the head of God Ganesh.


The next collection will easily be found in Building A is Bhairawa Buddha, due to the big size of the statue and is really easy to attract the visitor. Due to the statue's size, I think this collection could be considered as one of the masterpieces in National Museum of Indonesia.

Bhairawa Buddha

Origin : Padang Roco, Langsat River, West Sumatera

Century : 13 M – 14 M

This statue of Bhairawa Buddha Lokeswara is thought to be the embodiment of King Ādityawarman. This statue is depicted in the form of ugra (violent) and raudra (scary) with long fanged teeth, bulging eyes and a skull ornament.

The characteristic that indicates that this Bhairawa Statue is Buddhist lies in the decoration of a small Amitabha figure on its crown. Both of his hands held a bowl made of human skulls and knives. Both feet stepped on the corpse of the man who was lying with his legs folded.

Do you think you could find the first collection in this museum? Museum with tons of collections will make a lot of guessing of which one the first collection is. Rather than too much guessing, following is the first collection of National Museum of Indonesia that is Shiva Trisirah Statue.

Shiva Trisirah 

Origin : Magelang, Kedu, Central Java

Century : 8 - 9 M

No inv : 1a/3616

Shiva with three heads that represents the power of create, preserve and fused or destroy.

Lets move to Building B by passing the middle room and enjoy the view from behind the huge glass window.

When Building A’s collections are divided into specific rooms, Building B divided into 7 floors that 4 floors merely to display the collections by specific theme, then the remaining floors are not allowed to be entered by the public visitor.


The first floor theme of Building B is human and the environment. The first collection that we could explore is Prehistoric Burial in Gilimanuk.

Prehistoric Burial in Gilimanuk 

Accompanied by Favorite Things. The prehistoric human skeleton found in the Gilimanuk site, in Jembrana - Bali in 1985, is estimated to be from 2,200 to 1,800 years ago. It had had a first or direct burial (primary burial).

Beside the skeleton there was a metal weapon in the shape of a chopping knife or spear. The tools might have been for daily use or favorite things of the man when he was alive.

Beside the primary burial, there is also secondary burial that the skeleton of the family member will be allocated to a jar that the family could bring it on to their journey to the new place. The secondary burial method can be applied due to the nomadic process which is there is merely a small opportunity the family will go back to the previous living places.


Heading to the second floor, there is a view of some stone collections lined up tidily and one of those inscription collections is Mulavarmman Inscription. Then continue to another stone collection that is a replica of the Ciaruteun Inscription.

Mulavarmman Inscription

Material : Stone

Origin : Kutai, East Kalimantan

Century :Early 5th Century

This inscription is written in Pallawa script and Sanskrit language. The content of the script is about the genealogy of the King Mulavarmman, the biggest king in the ancient Kutai. His father named Asvavarmman and his grandfather named Kundunga.

Replica of the Ciaruteun Inscription

Material : Fiber

Origin : Ciaruteun River, Ciampea, Bogor, West Java

Century : Mid 5th

This inscription was previously known as the Ciampea Inscription with Pallawa script and Sanskrit language. Currently the inscription has been lifted from the river and is in the Bogor area. This inscription consists of four lines written in the form of Indian poetry, it contains praise to King Purnawarmman. The interesting point is that there are "curls" which until now can’t be read.


Walking around the collections then we will see the scales collection, the scales pattern looks captivating, and we will wonder what’s the function of this collection.


Material : Wood and iron

Origin : Sultanate of Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan

The scales were used for the measurements of the taxes in the form of food crops, purportedly, the Sultan of Banjar would sit on one side of the scale and the amount of tax was determined by his weight.


Actually this is the newest collection that we could explore in this museum. The newest one is not seen from the production time of the collection but from the time this collection was displayed in National Museum of Indonesia.

The World's First Vehicle

On January 29, 1986, Carl Benz filed for a patent for "vehicle powered by a gas engine".

What do you think regarding this collection? Could you guess what the function of this collection is?



Material : Wood

Origin : Lampung

Sesako is an ornament which is located at the backside of a short chair, used for appointment of the head of tribe in Lampung during the ceremony back in the day, candidates sitting cross-legged above the seat for reception of legalisation of authority. According to the locals, Papadon chairs have invisible snakes which can alert the owner about others who have bad or evil purposes. Sesako estimates came from 16 - 17 BC.

Currently, many rooms in Building A are under renovation, while in Building B the collections on the 4th floor in the gold room and foreign ceramic room are not allowed to be photographed at all, merely the small room in front of the gold room can be photographed.

National Museum of Indonesia still has a lot of fascinates collections which we could explore together, that are: 

Nandi Statue : The bull that is used as the vehicle of God Shiva.

Prehistoric Human Life : There is a real-size modest simulation of prehistoric human life.

Boat : If you think this boat is only used as the transportation, you are wrong! Because this boat is also used as a residence. The inhabitants only go to the land when selling fish and looking for clean water.

Gamelan Set : At one free space in Building B near the museum cafe, there is a complete set of gamelan equipment. In the pre-pandemic period, one of these museum facilities held a gamelan workshop and was open to the public. This is a museum facility and since it is not a museum collection, visitors are allowed to touch it.

During the pandemic, at this time many museums and galleries haven’t yet had open visits, many temporary exhibitions have also been postponed. So let's see which one of the other museums or galleries we can explore together.


For further information:

National Museum of Indonesia

Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat No. 12, Jakarta 10110, Indonesia



Social Media:


Twitter: @museumnasional

Facebook: Museum Nasional Indonesia

Instagram: museum_nasional_indonesia

YouTube Channel: Museum Nasional Indonesia



Personal photos and documentation

Personal impression and experience


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