taman mini indonesia

indah tour,

22 october 2019

Together with the curators and students of  From, by and for whom?, the project team went on an excursion to Taman Mini Indonesia Indah.

The tour started early in the morning at gudskul. A bus brought us to Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, a theme park with cable cars, pools, rides, restaurants, museums and most important numerous pavilions representing the different regions of Indonesia. Tien Suharto, the wife of Indonesia’s second President Suharto, had commissioned the complex in order to show the visitors the cultural diversity of the nation of Indonesia.

During the trip with the cable car we got an impression of the immense size of the park and the partly absurd looking composition of this Disneyland of Indonesia.

While visiting the miniature of the temple Borobudur, UNESCO World Heritage, and important site for the Indonesian identity, Grace Samboh and the students explained to us that it is mandatory for schools to make an excursion with their classes to Taman Mini Indonesia Indah for the purpose of a historical, geographical and cultural education about the country.

During a visit to the Military Museum, a huge fortress mock-up, it became clear that the park also serves the purpose of a political indoctrination. Only few exhibits inform about the military of the Republic of Indonesia (founded in 1945), but the struggle of different population groups of the archipelago against colonial invaders is presented. The heroic battle scenes depicted in dioramas are depicted as forerunners of the Indonesian state military in order to underpin its position of power in the country. The fact that the military also acted against its own population is omitted.

The regional pavilion of Timor-Leste today serves as a museum. Timor-Leste was conquered by Indonesia in 1976, which is glorified as an act of unification of the Indonesian people, and regained its independence 2002 after years of resistance. While in the other regional pavilions families lively show their culture through daily activities, the Pavilion of Timor-Leste was officially transformed into a museum and appears to be abandoned today.

As the last part of the tour we visited the regional pavilions of West Sumatra, which were very busy and gave insights into the culture and architecture of the region. For the Berlin team, the tour offered a very informative first overview of how national history and culture are made accessible to a broad audience and what political strategies could lie behind this particular form of communication. The gudskul students felt reminded of their childhood, when they visited the Mini Park with their schools, and questioned this educative approach critically.