Dive Deeply into Indonesia’s Forests through Manggala Wanabakti Forestry Museum

The forest diorama located in the lobby building, gives a different nuance to the existence of artificial animals and woods depict the ecosystem like a real forest. (photo: IO/Aldo)

IO, Jakarta – The Manggala Wanabakti National Forestry Museum is the only museum of its type in Greater Jakarta, standing for the hope of foresters who require comprehensive forestry information, one which serves as a documentary center recording the history of forests in Indonesia; it is a source of various types of knowledge related to forestry. With its interesting information and unique forest diorama, this museum is recommended highly as a place for you to spend a quiet weekend.

The 1,466 square meter museum was inaugurated on 24 August 1983 by the late President Soeharto. Its vision and mission is to serve as an information and documentation centre of forests and forestry in Indonesia. It is located in the Ministry of Forestry complex, next to the House of Representatives and People’s Council of Representatives’ (MPR and DPR) building.

Even though it is located in the center of Jakarta, not many people are aware of the museum’s existence. Other than its nondescript building, its signage, which should be prominently visible from the road, is too simple, placed negligently at a crossroads, so that by-passers don’t even notice it.

In line with its name, the Manggala Wanabakti Forestry Museum showcases everything about the nation’s forests. The museum has a collection of the types of wood obtained from Indonesian forests, such as teak, meranti, etc. Various items made of forest produce are also found. These collections are placed and packaged in such a way as to rouse visitors’ interest. Museum visitors can explore Indonesia’s forests through dioramas on the ground floor, after being welcomed by a ‘speaking tree’ – a 336-year-old teak – when they sign in the guest book.

In spite of the displays of forest produce and pieces of felled trees, another section implores us to maintain and preserve the forest and make sensible use of its products. The two-storied museum displays different information on each of its floors. There is a smaller collection on the upper floor than on the ground floor, containing photographs of the various types of forests in Indonesia, along with necessary information. The upper floor also contains a library and information center.

Another unique point of the Manggala Winabakti Forestry Museum is its ‘museum within a museum’. The ground floor has a small room that serves as a mini museum, the Rimbawan Pejuang (‘Warrior Forester’) Museum. The small room does not have much on display – only photos of veteran fighters, copies of their commendation certificates, and books about them.

The museum has a collection of 736 forest history artefacts, on display both inside and outside of the building. The ones indoor are organized in 9 glass cases and 5 dioramas of Indonesian forests: a natural forest, a teak forest, a pine forest, an agathist forest and a mangrove forest, complete with reproductions of the animals inhabiting these forests.

The Manggala Wanabakti Forestry Museum collections are displayed according to theme: Planning, Revegetation and Rehabilitation, Exploitation, Wood Processing Industry, Ceremonial Artefacts, and Planning Forestry Artefacts. This arrangement provides direction and guidance for transparent, responsible, participative, and integrated forestry management, one that considers regional characteristics and aspirations as per Law No. 41 year 1999 concerning Forestry.

It is a pity that the Manggala Winabakti Forestry Museum seems ignored by the Government. This is obvious from the dated and tired overall appearance of the museum, especially the aging photo diorama on the upper floor and the insufficient overall lighting. Also, few people seem to be aware that the Manggala Winabakti Forestry Museum even exists.

The Manggala Winabakti Forestry Museum is a quaint site that specializes in forestry. It brings more knowledge, specifically about forestry, to the public, unlike other museums that display historical and cultural items. Furthermore, admission is free. Therefore, you only gain something and lose nothing by visiting the Museum, which is open Monday-Friday, 09.00 a.m.-15.30 p.m.

(Muhammad Akbar)