Significant Historical Collections Lost in the Fire of the Indonesian National Museum

Tragedy struck the National Museum of Indonesia on 17th September 2023 evening, when a devastating fire broke out in one of its buildings, causing significant damage to the historical institution. According to local media reports, the blaze was quickly brought under control by the Jakarta rescue force, but the building has sustained substantial damage, raising concerns about the safety of the museum’s priceless collection.

The building where of the Indonesian National Museum in a 17th century print (Batavia Townhall 1770 Painting of Johannes Rach –

The National Museum of Indonesia is one of the country’s premier repositories of historical and archaeological artifacts, with a rich collection spanning thousands of years of Indonesian history (according its website the national museum stores 190,000 objects of historical value consisting of 7 types of collections, namely Prehistory, Archaeology of the Classical period or Hindu-Buddhist; Numismatic and Heraldic; Ceramics; Ethnography, Geography and History. The complex is built on an area of 26,500 square meters).

The three buildings that house the museum were built in the 17th century by the Dutch East India Company as warehouses. The building C was undergoing restoration and renovation and the flames reached the museum’s A1 building causing the collapse of a portion of the roof and walls.

The Central Jakarta Fire and Rescue Department quickly responded to the blaze, deploying eight fire trucks and 32 personnel to combat the flames. Additional firefighters were deployed to augment the response team, bringing the total number of personnel to 52. The head of the fire and rescue department attributed the cause of the fire to an electrical short circuit in a nearby shed used to store construction materials for the ongoing renovation at the museum. Strong winds fanned the flames, causing the collapse of walls and roofs in Building A, where the fire originated.

While the fire has been extinguished, the extent of the damage to the museum’s collection remains unclear. Preliminary investigations has suggested that the fire may have caused significant harm to the historical artifacts on display, including ancient relics and priceless artwork..

The National Museum of Indonesia is a cultural treasure that holds great significance for the people of Indonesia and beyond. Its loss would be a tragedy, not only for the country’s heritage but also for the countless visitors who flock to the museum each year to learn about its rich history and culture.