The monumental former Stadhuis or Town Hall building on Fatahillah Square houses the Jakarta History Museum. Besides a small section on the prehistory of the Jakarta-Bogor area, the focus of the museum is on the colonial era, with an impressive collection of 17th to 19th century furniture, as well as paintings, weapons, ceramics, numismatics and many others.
The building in classical Dutch renaissance style dates from the early 18th century. Together with the Westside warehouses (now the Maritime Museum) in Sunda Kelapa and the Gereja Sion on Jl. Pangeran Jayakarta, it is one of the oldest buildings of Jakarta. The first stone of the building was laid in 1707 by the then 8-year old daughter of Governor General Joan van Hoorn, Petronella. The stone is still visible high above the entrance to the present ticketing office at the right (west) side of the building.
Except for the front portico, the building has basically remained unchanged for more than three centuries. It served as town hall until 1925, then lodged the offices of the West Java provincial Governor, before in 1974 it became the Jakarta History Museum. In the past the court of Justice also resided here, still remembered by a large painting of three famous judgments from antiquity on the upper floor of the building. The building also served as prison and the dark, cramped dungeons below ground level can still be visited.
The most famous prisoner, though he stayed here only for a couple of weeks, was Prince Diponegoro on his way to exile in Sulawesi, after he was treacherously captured by the Dutch in Magelang in 1830. The terrace in front of the building was used for executions of more unlucky prisoners. The executions were announced by sounding a large bronze bell still hanging in the small tower on top of the building. The bell, inscribed Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God alone), was casted in Batavia in 1742 and is connected to a clockwork installed during the British interregnum. The clocks face and hands are unfortunately long gone.
The museum collections include paintings, among others an impressive 10 x 3 m depiction of the siege of Batavia by the Mataram forces in 1628/9 made by the famous artist Sudjojono. Though not on display, the museum has a complete series of portraits of all 67 Governor Generals of the Dutch Indies, the only complete set outside the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. But the museum is maybe best known for its large collection of furniture, over 250 pieces, dating from the 17th to early 19th century, almost all made in Indonesia after European models with often Asian inspired decorative wood carving.
Another unique collection are the beautifully executed and engraved sets of early 18th century standards for weight, volume and length measurements as well as standard forms for bricks, floor- and roof-tiles etc. And then there are hand- and fire-weapons, ceramics, glass-, crystal- and silverware, coins and banknotes, and all kind of intriguing curiosities from a bygone era. Although at present not all is on display, there is enough to give you a feel of the 17th and 18th century grandeur.
Museum Sejarah Jakarta
Jalan Taman Fatahillah No.1, Pinangsia, Tamansari
Jakarta Barat, 11110
T: +62-21 692 9101
Tuesday to Sunday 9:00AM – 3:00PM
Closed on Mondays
Ticket price: 2.000 IDR
The Indonesian Heritage Society Jakarta is a non-profit organisation offering the opportunity to learn more about the rich cultural heritage of Indonesia. The varied activities of the society, including tours, lectures and study groups, provide a stepping stone to discovering the culture, life, history & art of this vast archipelago.
Indonesian Heritage Society offers activities in different languages: French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese. Please contact the different language sections for their specific activities.