Wayang Museum – A Culture of Puppetry on Display

Wayang Museum is one of the unique museums I’ve been to in my entire travels. It’s not your ordinary museum where European paintings and statues are on display. You won’t even see a single local/Indonesian painting in here. This museum dedicates itself to showing the art of Javan wayang puppetry.

Wayang Museum - A Culture of Puppetry on Display (Jakarta, Indonesia)
Wayang Museum – A Culture of Puppetry on Display (Jakarta, Indonesia)

That’s right! It’s a museum where the entire two floors are filled with puppets of all sizes.

Wayang Museum - A Culture of Puppetry on Display (Jakarta, Indonesia)
Wayang Museum – A Culture of Puppetry on Display (Jakarta, Indonesia)

Wayang Museum is one of the tourist attractions around Fatahillah Square in the old town of Batavia. It occupies a former Dutch Church which explains its colonial architecture.

Wayang Museum - A Culture of Puppetry on Display (Jakarta, Indonesia)
The building used to be a Dutch Church.

Inside, the puppets are dressed in different and colorful costumes!

Wayang Museum - A Culture of Puppetry on Display (Jakarta, Indonesia)
Don’t miss the puppet show!

There are traders, conquistadors, farmers, soldiers, maidens, and many more.

Puppet show museum Jakarta java Indonesia
Things to do in Jakarta.

The monsters are represented, too!

Wayang Museum - A Culture of Puppetry on Display (Jakarta, Indonesia)
Things to do in Jakarta (Indonesia).

And ghost? Yes, they’re hovering over you! 🙂

Puppet museum Jakarta java Indonesia
It’s one of the unique museums I’ve been to.

They could literally scare the hell out of the kids!

Things to do in Jakarta (Indonesia).
Sightseeing in Jakarta (Indonesia).

And oh, as you stroll around, you’ll see a thousand and more facial expressions.

Sightseeing in Jakarta (Indonesia).
Sightseeing in Jakarta (Indonesia).

Many of these puppets were used for shadow plays.

Sightseeing in Jakarta (Indonesia).
Sightseeing in Jakarta (Indonesia).

But all of them had their heydays in performance art.

Sightseeing in Jakarta (Indonesia).
Sightseeing in Jakarta (Indonesia).

They were all used for puppet shows in the past – and this museum serves as their “retirement home.”

Things to do and see in Jakarta (Indonesia).
Things to do and see in Jakarta (Indonesia).

Perhaps, if they could talk, they’d have a lot of stories of tell – long before animation was invented.

Things to do and see in Jakarta (Indonesia).
Things to do and see in Jakarta (Indonesia).

If you have more time in Jakarta, you could join a puppet-making workshop here. Ask the reception for the schedule.

Things to do and see in Jakarta (Indonesia).
Things to do and see in Jakarta (Indonesia).

Also, if you are not in a hurry, catch “The Legend of Indonesia” puppet show which is in another building.

Puppet show musical instruments
A puppet show will never be complete without music using these musical instruments.

By looking at the wonderful puppets, you’ll find yourself slowly understanding the history of the country.

Things to do and see in Jakarta (Indonesia).
Things to do and see in Jakarta (Indonesia).

The puppets may be muted but they speak volumes of the country’s diverse culture and varied traditions. Puppet storytelling may be a lost art, but here, in this museum, the marionettes come alive inside those glass-covered boxes. But then, only a few of us can decipher what they’re trying to communicate.

Related Post: My Walking Tour in Jakarta

Where to Stay in Jakarta

I was in Jakarta twice on this trip – and so I stayed in two different hotels: Oria Hotel and Simple Hotel. They are both on the same street – at Wahid Hasyem Street. Staying on this street is the best decision ever. It has restaurants, groceries, and shops where locals go. Also on the same street, you’ll find western fast-food chains (McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, etc.). Twenty minutes walk from the street, you will find two of Jakarta’s premier shopping malls. The staff members were nice, too, and the wifi connection was okay. The rooms are basic but clean. You can book both hotels via BookingTripAdvisor, and Expedia. For cheap hostels in Jakarta, HostelWorld has a list of them.

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