National Museum of Indonesia badly damaged by fire

The National Museum of Indonesia, located in Jakarta, suffered a fire on the evening of September 16. The fire destroyed part of building A, which houses the exhibition rooms and immersive activities. The Ministry of Education and Culture announced that it had contacted France and the Netherlands to benefit from their expertise in the restoration of cultural heritage.

According to information from the Indonesian National Police (INP), four rooms in Building A were destroyed by the fire, resulting in the loss of prehistoric and historical artifacts. “At least 817 historical objects housed in six halls of the National Museum were affected by the fire,” said Acting Head of the Department of Museums and Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Education and Culture, Ahmad Mahendra. “Luckily, most of the artifacts affected by the fire were replicas”, he reassures. Two days after the fire, hundreds of items were moved to temporary storage pending an examination of the extent of the damage.

The suspected cause of the fire is believed to be an electrical short circuit. “behind the museum exhibition area, in the carpentry where building C was being renovated”, declared the INP. A joint investigation team including police and firefighters was tasked with confirming the cause of the fire, as well as compiling an inventory of artifacts that were damaged or lost and are still salvageable.

The ministry also sought help from foreign partners to develop a plan for the redevelopment of national museums. “We spoke specifically with the French government”who has experience with large-scale fires since the fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019, said Ahmad Mahendra, Wednesday September 20. “We have also discussed with the government of the Netherlands various aspects of restoration, particularly regarding the development of cultural heritage buildings and the management of collections. » The restoration of the National Museum will indeed go beyond the damaged museum collection, but also the museum renovation plan.

Colloquially called the Elephant Building (Gedung Gajah), the National Museum of Indonesia is the oldest and largest museum in the country. It was founded in 1778 by the Society of Arts and Sciences of Batavia, itself created by the Netherlands to promote the study of the history and archeology of the Dutch Indies. It houses more than 61,600 prehistoric and anthropological artifacts and 5,000 archaeological artifacts from across Indonesia and Asia.

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