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‘#MuseumAtHome’ brings Indonesian art museums, gallery to screens

Josa Lukman

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Wed, April 8, 2020  /  04:13 pm
‘#MuseumAtHome’ brings Indonesian art museums, gallery to screens

Virtual explorer: The National Museum's virtual tour allows visitors to tour the space from their computer screens. (Courtesy of Google/Indonesia National Museum)

While the sensation of strolling down an art gallery or museum cannot be easily replicated, many museums have joined a global movement named #MuseumAtHome to support stay-at- home policies to fight the pandemic.

The hashtag was created by museum freelancer Sacha Coward, who recorded explanations he usually gives out during his tours. Soon, the trend was picked up by major art institutions, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, as well as the Musée du Louvre in Paris.

In Indonesia, at least three art institutions in Jakarta have joined in on the virtual path.



While the National Museum has been closed since March 15 and the building sprayed with disinfectant, eager museumgoers can still take a tour of the museum through two options.

One is Google’s Arts & Culture platform, which has included the National Museum in its repertoire along with other historical landmarks such as Prambanan temple and the National Monument.

Through the app, users can walk through the museum’s interior and exterior with a 360-degree view, similar to its Street View feature. The app also highlights notable items in the collection, ranging from a simbut (blanket) cloth from the Baduy tribe of Banten to a Rangda mask from Bali dating back to 1934.

Another option is via the museum’s own virtual tour feature, available for computer users only on the National Museum’s website.

Despite the lags and slowness compared to Google’s platform, the virtual tour encompasses all buildings and floors of the museum, and provides clearer images as there are no visitors wandering in front of the images.

The Education and Culture Ministry’s Culture Directorate General, which oversees the National Museum, also held a number of virtual discussions and concerts on its YouTube page, Budaya Saya (My Culture)

Livestreamed shows under #BahagiaDiRumah (#HappyAtHome) include a story time session for Indonesian folktales, concerts by Riau Rhythm Chambers Indonesia and Doddy Bagus N Friends, as well as a dance masterclass with choreographer Eko Supriyanto.



Despite temporarily closing its doors on March 14, some collections at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara (Museum MACAN) can still be viewed by art aficionados stuck at home due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Museum MACAN’s programs includes a wide variety of activities, ranging from virtual tours to mini workshops you could do with your kids at home, all free of charge.

Most of the activities can be accessed on the museum’s website, which displays a red banner notifying users of the museum’s closure and a link to its #MuseumAtHome page.

On the website itself, users can download a series of activity sheets relating to Museum MACAN’s past and present exhibitions, such as a coloring segment inspired by Lee Mingwei’s The Mending Project and a fill-in-the-blanks sheet for the little ones to create their own manifesto, a la Julian Rosefeldt’s "Manifesto".

Staying connected: Museum MACAN provides several activities for its #MuseumFromHome program, from virtual artist talks to children's workshops. Staying connected: Museum MACAN provides several activities for its #MuseumFromHome program, from virtual artist talks to children's workshops. (Courtesy of Instagram/Museum MACAN)

The museum’s two ongoing exhibitions, "Manfesto"and performance artist Melati Suryodarmo’s "Why Let The Chicken Run?", will have their own dedicated virtual museum tours, which will be announced at a later date.

Museum MACAN director Aaron Seeto said in a statement that the program was responsive to the broader ongoing social situation.

“We understand that our home country Indonesia is very broad and diverse, with different levels of connectivity in different areas, provinces and islands. With that in mind, we are working hard to deliver content that can be accessed and downloaded easily, while prioritizing creativity and inspirations for parents, caretakers and professionals working from home, and children learning from home.”



Along with the National Museum, the National Gallery also closed temporarily starting on March 15, just four days after the official opening of painter Srihadi Soedarsono’s solo exhibition themed “Man x Universe” on March 11.

Despite the closure, its Instagram account @galerinasional has been rather active in providing related content, from a brief tour of its permanent exhibition to encouraging sketchers to continue sketching for the KamiSketsa Galnas weekly sketching program at home.

The more you know: Due to the closures, the National Gallery is posting images of artwork from its permanent exhibitions and temporary ones. The more you know: Due to the closures, the National Gallery is posting images of artwork from its permanent exhibitions and temporary ones. (Courtesy of Instagram/National Gallery of Indonesia)

National Gallery head Pustanto told The Jakarta Post by phone that a solution offered by the Culture Directorate General amid the outbreak was to go online to allow artists to continue to display their works, thereby providing an opportunity for the public to appreciate them.

Pak Srihadi was really down on his luck. We sought to display his works even with the closure, so we contacted the exhibition committee to obtain the photo files of the works so we could upload them,” he said.

Pustanto said the gallery was in talks with the directorate general about working with a television station, as most people at home would either be on their phones or watching TV.

With the pandemic in full swing, he said the gallery had several plans in store to respond to the crisis and judging by the looks of it, going virtual is the likely path.

“The pandemic coincides with a scheduled exhibition of Setiawan Sabana’s “Kitab: Catatan Seputar Diri dan Semesta (Holy Book: Notes About the Self and Universe)” on April 21. It’s unlikely to happen at this point, so we’ve offered the option of postponing it until the situation has calmed – likely next year – or hold it in a different way.” (ste)


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