Field Trip Stop #2 – Museum Tekstil (Textile Museum)

In continuation of my field trip chronicles, after we had a surprisingly great time at Museum Bank Indonesia, our journey continued to Museum Tekstil (in English: Textile Museum) in Tanah Abang.

I’d heard of this museum before my visit there and to be honest, I had some expectations about it because everyone’s raving on and on about its Batik-making workshop. But to be honest, I was incredibly let down.

Maybe it was the fact that this trip stop came after the highly innovative Museum Bank Indonesia or the fact that none of us had any particular interest towards Indonesian fabrics nor curious about where they come from, but there was absolutely nothing exciting about this museum. I wasn’t even listening to the guide at all, but I’m pretty sure that some of the stuff they want us to know from this museum is quite important. But good information won’t get to one’s ears if it’s not packaged in an interesting way.

Here are some collections in the museum I managed to capture.

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Fabric used to wrap dead bodies in Nusa Tenggara

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Traditional outfit of…. Aceh, I think?

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Handkerchiefs from Aceh made with real gold threads

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Most attractive display in the entire museum

The museum is thankfully small so we didn’t have to endure too much of this tiresome introduction to all the fabrics of Indonesia.

The displays could use a lot of improvement. Instead of displaying all the fabrics in glass cases, why don’t they turn some of the fabrics into fashion items which would appeal more to younger visitors? And some of the less fragile fabrics should be displayed in a way that people can touch these fabrics and actually sense how beautiful the texture is. Indonesia has plenty of different fabrics with all their different texture and patterns, but they will be under-appreciated in that museum if they’re merely kept behind glass cases. Not only that, but everyone would appreciate these fabrics more if they know how hard it is to make them. So instead of having a guide drone on and on about how they make the fabric, there should be a film or a workshop of that.

Anyway, the museum building itself is small but it is part of a larger complex of buildings which display other items related to Indonesian fabrics.

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A garden filled with plants used for natural fabric coloring

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Tools used to make Indonesian fabrics

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There was also a gallery filled with batiks from around Indonesia. Though the gallery was more modern, the fabrics were all still displayed in glass cases.

Afterwards, we all had a batik-making workshop which was basically tracing the patterns we’d made the day before with hot wax. But let me tell you something though, making batik is still a difficult thing to do – even though I’d had experience making one before. It was hard not to get blots of wax dripping on the fabric and ruining it. The instructors were also rather unfriendly, speaking briskly all the time and hardly even smiling.

(Unfortunately, my camera battery ran out by the time we started making batiks so no pictures to share here)

Going on this field trip felt like seeing two sides of Indonesian tourism. We actually have the potential to match the tourist attractions overseas – heck, we have more culture and nature than Singapore! We have the potential to make something as good as what they make overseas. But what’s wrong is how that potential is not explored properly by the government – the ones who actually have the most power to explore it. We have plenty of museums, some with collections that would have to be hard to obtain and yet we don’t package them attractive enough for people to actually pay attention to them. People may tell you not to judge a book by its cover, but we can’t deny that an attractive cover would make us want to read the book more. The same goes for information about how our tourism and culture.

On a final note, the field trip was great because we finally got out of the damn school building and get away from the damn daily tests and actually went somewhere together just for fun (without any side notes of “character building” and all) and became tourists at our own city. If school were like this everyday then I would have loved going to school.

But then again, if school were like this everyday, then when we actually go to these museums we’ve never been to, we would be all too familiar with the scene to appreciate it. Everything is fun until it becomes a daily routine, right?

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