Founded in 1976, Jakarta’s Textile Museum pays tribute to the history of one of Indonesia’s most celebrated industries. Across the entire Indonesian archipelago locals have handwoven and dyed fabrics for centuries, with each island producing its own distinct style influenced by its culture. The museum, which aims to conserve traditional techniques, has collected and curated many of those fabrics into exhibitions.
This place is a must-visit for history buffs and lovers of the finer things in life. Set inside an early-19th-century colonial mansion, the museum tells the stories of Jakarta’s textile industry.
Make your way about two kilometres south-west of Merdeka Square to the area of Tanah Abang, where the Textile Museum is appropriately located close to Jakarta’s wholesale textile market. Step inside and get set to take in a diverse collection of more than 2,300 individual items, with displays focusing on both modern and vintage textile works.
Exhibits consist of items from all over Indonesia, including some very rare fabrics collected from tribal communities. You’ll find textiles that have been coloured using the renowned batik technique (a wax-resistant dyeing practice that dates back thousands of years), fabrics fashioned from processed tree bark and animal fur, handwoven songkets that feature shimmering gold and silver detail, and traditional cotton and silk sarongs.
There’s a collection of antique looms and tools from different regions of Indonesia. Step outside into the private garden to discover an array of plants that are used for their colouring properties. Spread across 2,000 square metres, this greenspace houses an array of flowers, shrubs and trees that are used to create natural dyes.
There’s also a studio where visitors can participate in a variety of workshops. Why not learn the ancient process of batik dyeing or discover the secrets of handweaving while you’re here?
If your skills don’t quite hit the mark, pay a visit to the gift shop, where you can buy any number of top-quality textile items. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9am until 3pm. It’s closed Monday and public holidays.