National Awakening Museum portrays our nationalism
It is in appalling condition. -The Jakarta Post
In contrast to the clamorous 100th anniversary celebrations of the national awakening at Bung Karno sports stadium, the National Awakening Museum on Jl. Abdul Rahman Saleh 26 is in appalling condition.
The neoclassic building was built in 1899 for the School tot Opleiding Van Inlandsche Arsten, Stovia, a Dutch medical school for native students.
Built as a medical school by Dutch military engineer corps, the building is more like a fortress or military dormitory than a medical school.
The facade above the main entrance is classical Greek, but the main entrance itself is a colonial fortress. Its iron gate and the absence of a porch or veranda accentuates the fortress style of the building.
The 19th-century building has long windows because of the tropical climate. Every window has two shutters and a semicircular grille fanlight attached to each one. The outside shutter uses a grill for sun protection, while the inside shutter uses glass. Some windows were fixed according to their original style in 1973, but some glass panes have been replaced by iron bars.
Between 1942 and 1973 the building was used by Ambon soldiers. Until a renovation by the Jakarta administration in 1973, the building still hosted 196 households of Ambon soldiers.
During the renovations, former Stovia, MULO (Meer Uitgebreid Lager Onderwijs) and AMS (Algemeene Middlebare School) students provided pictures and shared their memories of the original building.
Some changes have been made, including new doors connecting rooms, to cater for its new function as a museum.
Some doors and windows have been blocked with their frames still intact.
Once you enter the main entrance, you turn left to start your clockwise journey through the rooms. All of the collections have been arranged in chronological order.
Not many national awakening related collections can be found here except some replica Dutch sailing vessels; hundreds of reproduction pictures of national heroes, heroines, and other historical figures; dozens of paintings of national heroes and heroines; reproductions of some old newspapers; busts of nine people believed to be the founders of Boedi Oetomo; several dioramas; and medical and old war equipment.
"Apart from the building, the only original collection is some furniture and medical equipment," Edy Suwardi, the National Awakening Museum head, said.
A poor standard of preservation has made it difficult for the museum's management to chase down original items, Suwardi said.
"Out of all the museums in the country, only the national museum has proper standards for preservation and maintenance. People may be willing to donate their heirlooms, but they are
Some of the museum's collections are poorly kept. Some pictures have no label or if they have, the explanations are vague. Some pictures are already missing from their places, with their labels left behind. Only a few rooms use for display receive the proper treatment in terms of light and temperature, except.
Some parts of the building, such as door frames, are riddled with white ants.
A lack government funding is part of the management problem the building that established as a cultural heritage building on Dec. 12, 1983, Suwardi said.
Last year the building received Rp 2.8 billion (US$ 300.82 million) from the government, while this year it received only Rp 1.75 billion.
Every year, the government earmarks about Rp 300 million for maintenance.
"With this amount there is not much we can do. Painting door and window frames is cheap, but replacing old and broken materials is expensive.
Suwardi said the government stated that 30 percent of the funds should go toward fixed-expenditures such employee salaries and building maintenance, while 70 percent should go toward museum activities. However, more than half of the money is used for the salary of its 44 employees.
"It is difficult to apply this ratio because we have many employees and obviously expenditure for salary is larger," said Suwardi.
"I don't know how to deal with it so that the allocation for activities is larger than maintenance and salary," said Suwardi.
Earnings from the entrance fee and the museum shops form only a tiny part of their funding. Suwardi said that the museum receives up to 1,000 visitors a month, but since the entrance fee was set by the government in 1998 at Rp 750 for adults and Rp 250 for children, the museum does not earn much money.
Besides rooms full of pictures, four rooms are dedicated to several occasions or national awakening episodes: a room for Boedi Oetomo memorial, a room for a diorama of Stovia lecturers meeting, a room for a diorama of a Stovia class and a room for a diorama of R.A. Kartini's classroom.
On the front corner to the left of the building is the Boedi Oetomo memorial room, which might be the only room in its original state. It is believed that Raden Soetomo and eight other students held a meeting here on May 20, 1908 to establish Boedi Oetomo.
The room was the anatomy room back then.
In this dark room there are the bronze busts of eight people believed to be the founders of Boedi Oetomo, including Goenawan Mangoenkoesoemo, Raden Angka Prodjosoedirdjo, Gondo Soewarno, Raden Mas Goembrek, Soeradji Tirtonegoro, Moehammad Saleh and Moehammad Soelaiman.
The bust of Raden Soetomo is not found here as it is in another room to the left of the main entrance, the introduction room.
A portrait of Dr. Wahidin Soedirhoesoedo by the famous painter Basoeki Abdullah is in front of the memorial room with a quote from Raden Soetomo adjacent to it. The quote acknowledges the role of Dr. Wahidin played in establishing Boedi Oetomo.
An original human skeleton used as example for medical students is still hanging inside a display case. A surgery table lies next to it.
The room is set up to represent the original Stovia's anatomy class with some wooden chairs for students. On the wall are some paintings and reproduction pictures of Stovia students.
Next to the Boedi Oetomo memorial room is a room with an exhibit detailing the situation of the lecturer meeting when Stovia director Dr. H.F. Roll defended Soetomo. Soetomo was about to be expelled from Stovia due to his activities in Boedi Oetomo. Roll was able to defend Soetomo with his famous saying: "Didn't anyone among the gentlemen present here, more red than Soetomo when we were at the age of 18?"
The original table used during the meeting is put on display, but the exhibit itself does not represent the real event. From paintings and pictures depicting the event, it appears that eight people attended the meeting, but we only find three people in the exhibit including Dr.H.F. Roll.
It's common knowledge that the poor management of many museums in the country is caused by a lack of funding. Not only are the collections poorly kept, but they also lack modernity. In a shop inside the museum, apart from soft drinks and snacks, don't expect to find any souvenirs that show you have been to the National Awakening Museum.
"Our museum shop is run by our cooperative, which emphasizes employee welfare. We have some miniature of the building and some t-shirts and caps, but sometimes we just give them to visitors for free," Suwardi said.
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