History Museum building
The History Museum of Jakarta, also known as Fatahillah Museum, is located at Fatahillah Square. It was established end of March 1974 by the then governor. The History Museum is actually located in the former Dutch colony City Hall building, which was inaugurated in 1710 by Dutch Governor General Abraham van Riebeeck. He was the son of Jan van Riebeeck who founded Cape Town, the oldest city of South Africa. The present building is the third city hall. It is said that the building resembles the palace on the dam in Amsterdam, Netherlands, built 50 years earlier.
Some of the history: 1707-1710 constructed. 1710-1816 City Hall Batavia. 1816-1905 office residency Batavia. 1905-1925 City Hall Batavia. 1925-1942 Office of west Java provincial Governor. 1942-1945 Japanese logistics office. 1945-1952 Office West Java Provincial Governor. 1952-1968 headquarters of Kota Military Command. 1968 transferred to the Jakarta City Administration. 1974 official opening of the history museum.
Other Purposes of building
Beside being a City Hall, this building also functioned as court council and Municipality Council at the time. The building also housed the main prison of Batavia where national figures were detained, such as prince Dipenogoro.
The board of magistrates and marriage registration were located in the building as well as a committee for the welfare of orphans. Also a room as Sunday prayer meetings hall until the church was built. It was even the burial place of Jan Pieterszoon Coen, whose body later got transferred to the church. On that place is now Museum Wayang located.
In short, the origin of Jakarta begins with the findings of stonetools, pottery, glass beads and bronze along the riverbank. The sides where artifacts founded seem to be residential places from people of the prehistoric time. Jakarta became part of the history of an ancient Kingdom in the west part of Java.
The founding of Tugu inscription indicated that the location where Jakarta originated had an important role in the past. In its later development Jakarta became the center of trade, governance and a mix of multicultural aspects until now.
You buy a ticket at the entrance of the history museum for 5000 rupiah ($0.33). Then you’ll see immediately a small hall with a wall size painting on it and an old cabinet. A panel shows you some history of the building. Then you walk on and suddenly you’re outside on an inner compound. No clear signs of direction to follow here. You just go there where you see other visitors. That might be the first kind of basement rooms where you can see cannon balls lying from the colonial time.
You follow your way back to the compound and into the building again. You’ll see some info panels about the history of the building and paintings of two Dutch persons involved in the construction of the building. This followed by a timeline board and the entrance to the orientation room. There you’ll see TV’s showing old times videos and a map of old Batavia. Go on into the prehistoric room with old stone tools, agriculture explanations and tools, about the Tugu inscription and about the Sunda Kingdom.
There are several other rooms with explanations of some sort. A room with old firearms from that time and old miniature of the city, for example. What stands out most is that the lighting in that room and many other rooms, which is hanging in such a way that you can’t really take pics of texts because of the reflection of the lights in the glass that covers it.
If you’re really taking in everything slowly and read all that’s mentioned, it easily takes you two hours or longer to visit. It might depend on which time or day you visit, but you might be surprised by loads of students in uniform who are in groups with copies to study within the museum, which can be noisy. Another noisy thing is the music played through a speaker system. Not really a peaceful background music.