Indonesia in Focus
Sri Baduga Museum: Bandung, West Java, Indonesia
One of Bandung’s treasures is the Sri Baduga Museum. It houses exhibits of geology archaeology, fine art and technology on three floors and is visited regularly by schoolchildren for educational purposes.
An orange mailbox dating from the Dutch colonial period, located to the left of the entrance, welcomes visitors to the Sri Baduga Museum in Bandung.
Few know exactly what exhibits are kept in the building, located at the BKR-Inhoftank crossroads, a busy spot south of the city.
This is understandable, as the museum, inaugurated on June 5, 1980, by Education and Culture Minister Daud Yoesoef, is generally frequented by elementary-, secondary- and high-school students. Their teachers may ask them to find out more about the history and culture of West Java, the province in which they live.
Run by the provincial administration, the museum has a collection of historical objects that mostly describe life in earlier periods of the region’s Sundanese community. According to Rochmaniah, the museum’s marketing officer, the exhibits shown comprise natural objects and cultural artifacts.
“The diversity of its collection covers 10 classifications ranging from geology, archeology, fine art and technology,” Rochmaniah, who has worked with the museum for only four years, said recently.
To date, it has collected 5,893 exhibits, looked after by 82 employees. That number is inclined to increase in line with a public desire to hand over historical objects to the treasury to serve as resources for the museum.
It has three floors with an open display room, where the Inscription of Ciaruteun, an eight-ton black rock found in Ciampea, Bogor, is put on show. It is one of the seven inscriptions of the Tarumanegara kingdom built in 450 AD, and attracts a lot of visitors.
The first floor displays various natural objects and items of cultural interest found in West Java. Animals and plants of the Leuweung Sancang tropical forest reserve, Garut, can be seen at the entrance, along with a single-horn rhino (Rhinoceros sundaicus), a surviving ancient species whose population keeps shrinking in Ujung Kulon National Park, in the extreme southwest of Java.
A model portraying the geomorphology of Lake Bandung some 6,000 years ago, which resulted from the blockage of the ancient Citarum River by Mt. Tangkuban Perahu’s eruption, provides a glimpse into the history of Bandung and its environs.
The same floor also presents cultural tools used by Sundanese ancestors such as axes in Tasikmalaya and Parigi, Ciamis, and crude knives in Tangerang. Museum personnel estimated that the Mesolithic devices were used for hunting and preparing food.
Animism is indicated by stone graves complete with stone axes and bangles offered to the dead, which were discovered in Mandiracan, Kuningan and Anyer Lor, Serang.
Sundanese traditional community life depicted on the second floor is no less appealing, with molds for cikak and satu cookies from Majalengka and Cirebon respectively, a miniature of the Kampung Naga communal house, Tasikmalaya, classroom furniture of the Dutch period and a replica of the Nagaliman carriage of Cirebon’s sultanate.
Another heritage item dating from Dutch colonial times includes a grave dome measuring one meter by 0.5 meter, found in Dayeuhkolot, southern Bandung, before being moved later to the Christian graveyard of Kerkhof, Jl. Padjadjaran.
It belonged to Anna Maria, who died on Dec. 28, 1756, the daughter of Sgt. de Groote, a Dutch soldier stationed in Bandung. There are also village chief stamps of Cibodas, Ciparay and Bandung, of the same period, that were donated by Garut residents.
On the third floor are different kinds of Sundanese musical instruments like flutes, zithers and gamelan, besides wooden and leather puppets, as well as traditional wedding attire. The museum also keeps over 140 ancient manuscripts. Regrettably, owing to the small number of translators and limited financial resources, only 35 texts have been translated into Indonesian.
The diversity of the items is what prompts schoolteachers to take or assign their students to the museum. During the Travel Exchange (Travex) 2005 exhibition held in Bandung in the middle of last year, Sri Baduga was one of the tourist destinations that attracted guests from Singapore and Malaysian.
Rochmaniah said she received about 100,000 visitors per year, mostly students. They usually come Mondays through Fridays, with the general public predominating at weekends,” she added.
Given the extent of its collection, however, the museum provides inadequate information. Amanda, a second-year state junior high school student in Bandung complained about the absence of guides. “If no personnel are available, at least there should be booklets to describe historical facts for us,” she said.
Fachrich, Amanda’s friend, pointed to the dirty walls of the building. “The brown stains on the walls make it look sleazy. Museums should be tidy and clean — like those abroad,” he remarked.
Yuli Tri Suwarni
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