On the east by the Supreme Court (1848) and the department of Finance (1982), on the south by the monstrous Borobudur Hotel. In the centre of the square stands a muscle bound gaint bursting from his shackles. This is the Irian Jaya Freedom Memorial placed here in 1963 by Soekarno to commemorate the annexation of Irian jaya (West New Guinea). When the statue was first erected, Jakartans joked that the gaint was crying “empty” – with reference to the Finance Department behind.
Returning to the eastern side of medan Merdeka, one passes two more colonial structures: the Gedung Pancasila (1830) where Soekarno unveiled his five principles of the Indonesian state, and the small Emmanuel Church (1835), meant to resemble a Greek temple. The Jakarta Fair (an exhibition complex) and an amusement park called Taman Ria occupy the southern quadrant of the square.
On the western border of Medan Merdeka lies on of Indonesia’s great cultural treasures: the National Museum. Opened in the 1868 by the Batavian Society for Arts and Sciences – the first scholarly organisation in colonial Asia (founded 1778) – the museum houses enermously valuable collection of antiquities, books and ethnographic artifacts acquired by the Dutch during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Unfortunately the displays are not well labelled, though the objects exhibited are fascinating. Hindu – Javanese stone statuary, prehistoric bronzewares and Chinese porcelains are among the exhibits that take hours to see properly. The star collection, however, is housed in the Treasure Room, open only on Sunday mornings (10 a.m. to 12 noon) – a plundered hoard of royal Indonesian heirlooms. The museum itself is open Tuesday to Sunday, 8.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m., but closes early on Friday (11 a.m.) and Saturday (1 p.m.). Closed Monday
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