Museum MACAN Jakarta showcases contemporary art

Indonesia has been associated with art since it’s human history started, but events in modern history delegitimized many forms of artistic expression. Museum MACAN Jakarta is a long awaited chance to awaken artistic appreciation in Indonesia. A philanthropic gesture by Haryanto Adikoesoemo, chemicals industry billionaire and art collector, started Museum MACAN Jakarta. Through his collection and generosity, the museum has access to around 800 works of national and international significance, and sees its mission as putting Jakarta on the international art map, art education and raising awareness.

 

Location and orientation

Museum MACAN Jakarta is in a residential and office block in the media district of West Jakarta, next to the offices of Kompas Gramedia and MNC Studios. After my trip to Komodo, I was hoping for a local visit, so I went there on 24th December which was a Sunday. The gallery is easy to find, although the roads next to it are a bit confusing, and it’s easy to miss the entrance.

 

Once there, take a lift or escalator to the third floor, and the welcome area greets you with a couple of large paintings. There’s a cafe and gift shop as well. The queue was moving fairly quickly, and I waited for about ten minutes to get my tickets. Adult tickets were RP50,000, and Kids were RP30,000.

 

Overview

 

The gallery mixes international works by contemporary artists like Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst, with Indonesian classical and contemporary works by artists like Raden Saleh, Djoko Pekik, and Nyoman Masriadi. There’s a short video with introductions from the co-curators Agung Hujatnika and Charles Escher, and director Aaron Seeto, which is well worth watching to get an idea of the rationale behind the space.

 

I really enjoyed some of the Indonesian artists, and spent some time looking at a painting of a Java Mail Station, which offered a glimpse into communications of the past. As a young country, the birth of the nation is still in living memory, and I also enjoyed the fantastical painting of Soekarno, surrounded by freedom fighters.

 

Visitors

The gallery was quite busy when I visited, and the signs on the ticket desk imploring visitors that art should be appreciated for its own merit seem to go largely unnoticed. For many people, the artists endeavours are less a source of contemplation than a backdrop for selfies, although some people did adopt reflective poses. I took my entire family which on a personal level provided some challenges as I tried to enjoy the art, put a blog post together, and stop my kids from wrecking the place. I’m trying to expose them to art and culture as early as I can, but it’s a real struggle and they weren’t ready to follow the rules. They still expect to be able to touch and play with everything, and barriers mean nothing to them!

 

There are a number of nudes and other fertility oriented works, which may be controversial to some, but mostly made people snigger. Additionally, there are works with strong messages about freedom, consumerism and political choice, in amongst more abstract and impressionist material.

Controversial Art

Art in Indonesia has the ability to sail into dangerous waters. The recent history of the country would have found easy associations with left leaning philosophy, and intelligensia activity can still be risky today.

 

Many of the young people I talk to have almost no knowledge of global art, with the exception of anime and comics. Similarly, with developed countries, art is seen as a middle class activity and this would exclude wide segments of Indonesian society, so it will be interesting to see what their outreach program achieves.

Museum MACAN Jakarta Overall

It is all at once overdue, challenging, and hopefully successful, without courting the kind of controversy that some exhibitions or galleries might seek in this context. Although the gallery has a lot of work ahead with its education programs, the current exhibition is a starting point for this art space. Jakarta and Indonesia certainly have a great need for spaces like this, both for the development of culture, and to increase the attractions for visitors to the city. This gallery ticks both boxes and is a ‘must visit’ destination for Jakarta visitors. I am optimistic that it will be very successful and I will certainly visit a couple of times a year.


Fact file:

  • Gallery: Museum MACAN Jakarta
  • Exhibition: Art Turns. World Turns. Exploring the Collection of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara
  • Location: AKR Tower Level MM, Jalan Panjang No. 5 Kebon Jeruk, Jakarta Barat 11530
  • Visiting Hours: Tuesday-Sunday (Closed every Monday) 10 am – 7 pm
  • Instagram instagram.com/museummacan
    Facebook facebook.com/museummacan
    Twitter @museummacan

 

 


Have you been to Museum MACAN Jakarta? I’d love to hear what you think about the gallery, or the works, or the artists I mentioned. Comments please! Don’t forget to read my Indonesia travel tips or get a free image if you subscribe!

43 thoughts on “Museum MACAN Jakarta showcases contemporary art

  1. I look forward to visiting with you when I am next in Jakarta. It is difficult to do this with small kids but galleries can promote art with and for children. Touching is an important part of this. Perhaps the U.K. could donate some robust sculptures like Moore or Hepworth. These get a lot of attention in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Perhaps we can take Zafira and Nabila there when you come here in June.

    • They do have a kids outreach program, but I’m not sure where it was located on the day, as it was pretty busy. We’d love to go to Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Sounds great!

  2. I didn’t know that there is such a museum in Jakarta. It is a welcome change from Bali for those who plan on traveling to Indonesia. Incidentally, I have been planning for this trip for a long time. I might’ve to consider for next year 🙂

    • Yeah. Jakarta is slowly waking up to the idea of international and domestic tourism, and this is a real positive step. It already has amazing food, shopping and nightlife. You should stop by!

  3. I lose track of time when I visit museums like these. Art intrigues me. I love that the art pieces displayed here offer a glimpse of Balinese lifestyle few know about. Some of them also offer social commentary. Just the kind of art I love observing.

  4. This looks like such a great place to visit! I got to see a Warhol exhibit in Amsterdam and it was the best. My favorite picture that you posted is Java Mail Station though. So beautiful. If I make it over to Jakarta I will have to check out this museum.

    • I have been to a few galleries in Amsterdam too. One of them had a 3 hour queue to get in which was just totally over the top. This gallery is a real positive step forward for the culture of the city and people should be proud of it!

  5. I loved the beautiful painting section of the Macan Jakarta museum. You have so much knowledge about the art, I am glad to know that. Very few people seem to have it. The photographs made me fall in love with this museum and I will make sure to visit it when I visit Indonesia.

  6. I’ve been to Jakarta and regularly visit but never been to this museum. The museum MACAN Jakarta looks like a nice additional to this quickly growing city. I understand why there is such a large queue for this, I think it would make a unique place for a first date.

  7. I love the paintings in Museum MACAN Jarkarta; they are distinctively unique. I can relate to your kids not obeying rules, isn’t childhood not same as freedom? But I like the idea of exposing kids to art and culture at a young age. It’s a nice development from Indonesia and must visit.

  8. I’ve not yet been to Indonesia but Jakarta looks amazing! I’m usually in Latin America and like to visit the art galleries and museums I encounter there. I love the image of the Balinese Woman and Child you captured. Not to mention the work one of my favourite artists of all time – the one and only Andy Warhol.

    • Yes he is pretty good. He really understood the connection between art, the community of production and consumption, and celebrity. He sent a powerful message through time which resonates today.

  9. It’s really interesting to read about a gallery in Jakarta. I love a lot of the art work and its symbolic meaning, like the piglets suckling from the big US pig!! It looks like a great place to visit, and with lots to learn too.

    • Yeah it’s a striking piece of sculpture, but intellectually it’s not too challenging I guess. Still, overall the gallery is a greast place.

  10. Interesting–I had never heard of this museum before! I agree, art museums can often become backdrops for selfies, though hopefully people put their cameras away and enjoy it after taking their pictures! I know nothing about Indonesian art, so I think that those sections would be most interesting for me personally.

    • Yeah. It’s a sign of the times. I bet the Louvre had a similar problem with the Mona Lisa. The fact they are relaxed about images is actually a good thing in many ways because it means the gallery is open and not too stuffy.

  11. I am interested to see what one can do in Jakarta and the museum MACAN really looks like an interesting place even though I dont know much about art but it looks like museum MACAN is a great place to start learning a little bit about art. I especially like the Indonesian art section! How beautiful! But as you, I have a toddler who doesnt know the meaning of barriers so I might wait a year more before I head to MACAN.

    • It’s worth going if you are in the city. Jakarta is a good place for transit in Indonesia and it’s working hard to develop itself as an attraction in it’s own right. The museum is a step towards this, and is well worth the effort. I guess one toddler is manageable, but I have two!

  12. I’m really picky about which museums I visit as they can either really intrigue or bore me. However, the museum macan does look quite interesting. I liked the political art, especially the pig, it really spoke to me. I’m a huge fan of Andy Warhol as well. Also, your ‘little hooligan’ is adorable.

    • Me too! There are few things worse than a poorly curated museum. I’ve been to quite a few that are starved of money, lacking in creativity, and generally offer nothing more than a few dusty old odds and sods behind glass cases. It’s a global phenomenon mind you.

  13. Very interesting art work! The sowing seeds of dependency one is especially interesting. I also really like the photo of the little hooligan disrespecting the barriers 😉 Haha. What a cutie. It looks like a great museum, one definitely worth a visit! I’ll keep it in mind if I ever make it there.

  14. Recently, I visited a museum and sadly though the building was oozing with people, hardly anyone was there to admire the artworks, just like you mentioned, they treated the paintings and artworks as background of selfies. I could understand it must be very hard for you to control children from wrecking havoc and enjoy the museum at the same time, but I am glad you managed to do both, your detailed blog post and pictures attached definitely proves it. Its sad to read many of the youth have absolutely no knowledge of global art. The scene is pretty much similar in India. The fact that its very difficult to make a decent living out of artwork discourages the population from taking interest in art. Mostly people here want to break the poverty cycle they are trapped in and get rich and improve standard of living.

    • I think all art suffers from the twin evils of derivation and copyright protection. It seems really easy to rip off concepts and ideas across all segments of creativity. I guess countries like Indonesia and India are some of the most blatant. Everything gets copied here instantly. It’s sad.

  15. I’m no art connoisseur but I have to say these paintings looks incredible! The Java mail station amd the rest of the paintings take you back in time. And yes, good see your cute little hooligan enjoying his art time :).

  16. I am a great admirer of Art. Museum MACAN Jakarta looks a great place to see the best of International as well as local art. I would love to pay a visit whenever I land in Jakarta.

  17. I am just back from Bali, and it has increased my interest in Indonesia. These art forms are so different from European art displays. Very refreshing and thought provoking too. Museum Macan is definitely in my must visit list if I ever land in Jakarta. I am so glad they allow photography there.

  18. These works are so beautiful. Birth of a Nation is especially provocative. I feel that visiting museums and seeing artwork from a country is very important while travelling, as it give you a sense of the culture and history, through the eyes of those that live there.

  19. The hubby and I LOVE modern and contemporary art museums, so it’s nice to see another one to add to our list. It looks like Museum MACAN Jakarta has managed to assemble an excellent collection. How does the outside look? It seems most modern and contemporary art museums are housed in such neat buildings that the architecture is also a draw for us.

    • Hehe the outside is terrible! I managed to make a reasonably nice image of the view from the car park to the entrance and used it as the title image for the post.

  20. From what I’ve heard, Jakarta doesn’t have a lot to do and see and that’s why reading about this art museum is interesting because at least for art enthusiasts, I can see that there’s something to explore. I’m not much of an art enthusiast myself but if i ever have some time to spend in Indonesia’s capital, id like to visit this museum. Thanks for the detailed review !

    • It’s a myth that there’s nothing in Jakarta. 25 million people must have interests right? It does however have a PR problem, and the stuff to see and do isn’t aimed at tourism. There’s precious little ‘old town’ and high culture can be elusive, but pretty much anything else can be found here. Great food, nightlife, fashion, malls and a high urban vibrancy are very much in evidence. I hope you do visit the gallery, but also take some time to get under the skin of the city, preferably with a local.

  21. Art is such an interesting toipic…we all interpret it differently. I loved Chariots Painting…so mystic. I will add this to my must do list when I visit Jakarta next.

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