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Maritime Museum, traces of VOC grandeur in Batavia

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Jakarta, IO – Like entering a time tunnel, an ambience of the past contained in books or films are immediately invoked when you enter the main door to the Maritime Museum, Sunday (17/6).

The typical Dutch building looks unique with a large semicircular door that is the height of the average Indonesian. There are doors and a number of rectangular windows in almost every room.

Being one of the oldest museums in Indonesia, the Maritime Museum on 1 Pasar Ikan Street, Sunda Kelapa, Penjaringan, North Jakarta, is celebrating its 300th anniversary. It was founded by the Dutch trading company Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC). Millions shards of memories stored in the museum can be felt through the hundreds of collections of maritime historical objects on display.

The museum holds around 126 historical objects. The major collection is the old traditional ships and boats. There are 19 boat replicas. The rest consists of miniatures to photographs and paintings that contain historical value.

Maritime Museum
The traditional boat that is the main collection of the museum. (IO/Faisal Ramadhan)

From Colonial Era to Independence

In the 17th century, the building was used as a warehouse to store spice, coffee, tea and cloth by the VOC. Adjacent to the city wall, the museum was built with the best and strongest materials for protection. One can see a number of cannons installed in many corners of the building. In the mid-1900s, the building was used to store logistics by the Japanese army.

After Indonesia’s independence, the building was also used as a warehouse by the Indonesian government. In 1977, Jakarta Governor Ali Sadikin inaugurated it as the Maritime Museum, complete with VOC towers, including the Port Authority (Syahbandar) watch tower located not far from the museum.

Restoration after fire

Since it was inaugurated, the museum has attracted many visitors. Unfortunately, on January 16, 2018, around 8:30 WIB, part of the building caught fire due to an electric short circuit. The fire quickly engulfed one of the large exhibition areas, causing the museum to lose many of its precious collections.

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