Tue, 18 Sep 2001

Students find museums unattractive, boring

JAKARTA (JP): Museums still lack public appreciation and attention here despite the presence of many historic and artistic artifacts in their collections.

Jakartans remain unimpressed with these museums, as many use the excuse of not having time, while others are simply more honest, saying that museums do not appeal to them.

Sadly, even students majoring in history admit that they will not go to museums unless they are on a school trip or have an assignment that requires museum research.

"I spend more time at the malls with my friends than going to museums," said Wisnu Arniady on Sunday, a student of Jakarta State University majoring in history.

Wisnu, who is in his fifth semester, was chaperoning freshmen to several museums in Jakarta as part of a university trip.

He told The Jakarta Post, at the Jakarta History Museum on Jl. Taman Fatahillah in West Jakarta, that the museums here are rather gloomy and boring.

He admits, though, that visiting museums would help him gain a deeper knowledge of historical places and artifacts that would be useful for his studies.

His junior, Ervina Halit, said the last time she visited a museum was when she was on a junior high school excursion.

"I never seem to find the time; besides, I don't think my friends would be interested in joining me on trips to museums," said Ervina, who felt reluctant to go to museums on her own.

On that Sunday morning, those visiting the History Museum -- which is equipped with a cafe opened a few years ago -- comprised only the Jakarta State University students and some foreign tourists on a city tour.

Street vendors filled the area right in front of the colonial building which was originally a city hall and was erected in 1710, while empty plastic bottles and other rubbish was scattered all around.

Despite its valuable collections, the building and artifacts appeared to be lacking proper maintenance, thus inevitably adding to a somber atmosphere.

It is one of seven museums under the management of the City Museums and Renovation Agency.

The six others are the Joang '45 Museum, Prasasti Museum, Bahari Museum, Arts and Ceramics Museum, Wayang Museum and the Textile Museum.

In an effort to attract the public, the agency is organizing a six-day museum exhibition at Atrium Plaza in Senen, Central Jakarta, that will last until Wednesday. This will later move to Ratu Plaza in Central Jakarta and the Park Plaza Hotel in West Jakarta.

Unfortunately, visitors to the exhibition were not much more enthusiastic than visitors to the History Museum.

"I didn't realize that our museum has so many interesting objects; perhaps I'll go and have a look some day," said Lia Gunawan, a housewife, while adding that she was rather busy running errands, and visiting the museum perhaps would not become a reality in the near future.

Another visitor, Herni Alnuriyah, a high school student, was also uncertain about whether she would visit a museum soon.

"I think museums are rather boring," she said.

Last year, only 120,000 people visited the city-managed seven museums, a jump from 80,000 the previous year. Sixty percent of them were foreigners and most of the rest were students.

There are 60 museums across the capital, which are privately managed or under the management of the City Museums and Restoration Agency or the Ministry of National Education. (06)