Museum Nasional Indonesia / Aboday

© Rizal Bayu

The first prize winning proposal for the Museum Nasional by Aboday aims to bring back this massive institution to its original role as a public facility. Their design addresses the question of urban context by inserting a new corridor between the existing museum building (A) and building (B) that will maintain an openness to the pedestrian and city park on the Eastern part of the complex. More images and architects’ description after the break.

© Rizal Bayu

As a national pride, Museum Nasional Indonesia, located in , on the west side of the city’s infamous Monumen Nasional (National Monument with its 24 karat gold coated flame on the top) has been suffering from identity crisis for more than a decade. Occupying an 1862 colonial building from the era of Dutch Governor General JCM Radhermacher; it has an iconic Bronze Elephant in its front yard; a gift from Siamese King Chulalongkorn during his visit in 1871 thus its nickname of Museum Gajah (Elephant Museum).

© Rizal Bayu

Despite its long journey as an oldest research institution dedicated to Indonesian history, the museum has only been visited by 200.000 visitor during the year of 2010. This is happened in a city whereby one nearby shopping mall welcoming 30,000 visitor a day; and a research about shopping habits shows that people in this city religiously paying a visit to their favorite mall once in 6.5 day! It doesn’t help that the museum has 145,000 artifact and artwork, the largest of its kind in South East Asia; and that its collection span from the Prehistoric Indonesia to the Independence era of 1945.

© Rizal Bayu

A new masterplan was produce in 1996 as a result of a closed competition; an attempt to revamp the museum by extending its facilities with commercial supporting areas; even thought it was halted halfway due to the global economic crisis that hit Indonesia badly. This masterplan with typical approach of ‘archeological-conservation: copying an existing building to achieve a ‘new harmony’ , resulting on the construction of Building B on the Northern part of the original museum creating a confusing dual identity that put the whole complex in dismay rather than the intended harmony. Some attempt to steal its precious collection also force the museum to develop a massive security fencing eliminating the museum role as a supposedly public facility, to become a building with full surveillance element. The museum complex loose its relevance to the life of cosmopolitan Jakarta.

© Rizal Bayu

Called Museum Corridor, this East-West axiality of future urban stream further organized and help visitor to navigate their journey within the museum complex. Shaded by a giant urban canopy, the architect introduce new activities along the corridor in a hope to attract wider audience to the otherwise staid institution. Arrange between the row of slender steel rumboid shape colonnade is a series of social and commercial nodes such as bookshop, museum store, orientation/exhibition hall and choices of F&B areas that will surely attract people in this food heaven city.

© Rizal Bayu

Made entirely of steel structure and shading of waffle pattern aluminum fin, the glass covered corridor is a magnified version of open terraces surrounding the perimeter of existing building; an attempt to respect and reflect the old without imitating it as guided by Charter of Venice. In this very space that the architect expect people will start diving into the experiential ambience of contemporary social and museum aesthetic. Without even buying ticket, the first time museum visitors will still be able to enjoy the collection in this passage as display starts as early as in the open garden next to the F & B sitting area. This is part of the idea to widen the exhibition area in the museum complex, as absolutism has been indefinitely ended from the issue of museum display presentation.

© Rizal Bayu

Perpendicular to this passage corridor, there is a wide alley on the upper level stitching the existing museum building (A), new building (B) and proposed building (C) . Called Museum Alley, it is connected by the curvilinear gentle ramp; circulating the urban stream from the passage below to the key-points at the North-South end of this alley. It also serves as the main handicap access from the secondary drop of on the Northern side of the complex. Vertically co-join by a series of elevator and ramps, the alley bring people further up to areas of temporary exhibition in Building (B) or Display Storage, Offices and 1000 seater auditorium in Building (C). The highest level of this new building block will be occupied by a museum theme restaurant that will claim the magnificent view of Monumen Nasional as it main attraction.

© Rizal Bayu

Many of museum collections are now scattered around the existing building, some of them are displayed in the courtyard or open verandah with no proper protection, endangering its lifespan by exposing it to weather. Also the lack of display areas within the building resulting in a very cramp museum interior, where visitor and collections sometimes knocking elbow by elbow. With the new pragmatic program of additional 10.000 sqm exhibition space, this situation will be improved as more collections can now be displayed in proper sequence or story. Positioning these exhibition spaces in layers of levels enable museum goers to create their own choreography during the visit; as display will likely be categorized base on theme rather than chronological year.

© Rizal Bayu

Aside from the exhibition space, new additional storage area of 5500 sqm in the upper level will be designed as such, that it will actively visible to the visitors. A storage passage of floor to ceiling glass wall for museum goers will be inserted within the storage space, allowing the visitor to have a view of what happened inside; an attempt to reduce the possibility of any wrongdoing to those priceless collection when its shielded from the public view.

© Rizal Bayu

To establish the criss cross of new Museum Corridor and Museum Alley as the key-point within the building, the bronze elephant will be relocated, positioned on a 2 storey pedestal right on the crossing path of these 2 main thoroughfares. People from both axial of East-West and North-South will be able to see this iconic sculpture as the museum’s main visual connector. Generating objections during the competition presentation as many museum insider are worried that the relocation will cause museum a lost of identity, the architect rather convinced that relocating an old icon to new position will strengthen the meaning and put the symbol into a more relevant context of time and space.

Architects: Aboday
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia
Partner in Charge: Ary Indra
Team: Rafael David, Johansen Yap, Ferdy Apriady, Radhi Maulanza, Vani Wijaya, Agie Aditama, Budi Yono, Dugi Maheswardhitra
Client: Museum Nasional Indonesia

Cite: Furuto, Alison. "Museum Nasional Indonesia / Aboday" 19 Mar 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 May 2015. <>
  • felandromadjid

    great job, finally someone’s made a note worthy effort. please make it happen please dear gov

  • gazimahdi

    i love the plan, and the mix between new and old but please dont do this, jakarta has lost a lot of its colonial building due to poor city planning and other reasons, and i think the city need to preserve it.

    why not make a new building instead?

    good job though i see some renzo piano influence on your building

    • alamfmulyana

      Please study the article carefully, the new building is there, on the north side, built in the mid 90′s, which looks like a failed clone of the old colonial building : trying hard to copy the original on the facade but has an ugly pseudo-post-modernist box on the back. This existing extension, as stated in the article, is “creating a confusing dual identity that put the whole complex in dismay rather than the intended harmony”. That’s why on the final design result, the architect only ‘modified’ this extension, made a distinct form compare to the original, and tried to make the original stand out. I hope in the end they will get rid of the ugly extension completely, thou. Great job!

  • Penduduk Kota

    Not nice. I find it too plain in a way. Nothing much to say about the design. Seems like they just providing a bigger space to put the scattered collections, with bigger boxes.

  • kuntho wibowo

    secara visual memang ‘agak’ mengesankan, tapi saya jg setuju dgn pendapat penduduk kota, hanya sebagai kotak besar saja.

    hakikat sejati arsitektur Indonesianya sama sekali tidak terlihat, entah itu motif/relief dari suku2 Indonesia, arsitektur tropisnya, dan masih banyak lagi yg masih di gali apabila bertemu dgn kata Indonesia.

    entah bagaimana pula yg terjadi pada ruang kaca pd disain tsb bila ketika musim kemarau dan panas. ac lagi solusinya ??

    sori, tp ini pendapat saya, disainnya belum merakyat.

    • Rey

      i thought the concept is to reflect the colonial buildings between it. it was a briliatn idea.