Appreciating the arts, one gallery at a time. Museum MACAN opens a new perspective for the arts in Indonesia.

Art gallery and museum visits has been a part of the many excursions and primary activities for people, both young and old, living in the metropolis Jakarta we call home. Blessed is to be able to experience various art spaces, national museums and art galleries freely in the familiar hubbub of the city. The immersive experience of old relics and paintings that bring a sense of nostalgia to many. Though at the same time, others visit to laud and appreciate the aesthetics and beautiful creative processes of emerging artists through their work.

Indonesia’s first international modern art museum, Museum of Modern Art and Contemporary Art in Nusantara, or better known as Museum MACAN will open its doors this November 2017. The museum, located in a multi-purpose building in the Kebon Jeruk neighborhood in West Jakarta will introduce a whole new experience to some but for others, a familiar experience of contemporary museums abroad.

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Aaron Seeton, Director of Museum MACAN shares to DEW his vision for Museum MACAN and his hopes for the art scene in the archipelago. With the wide interest and positive responses received from the First Sight Exhibition last August 2017 prior to the gallery’s opening, Seeto shares his enthusiasm and sentiments with the public.

“With The First Sight of Museum MACAN, we wanted to give goers an opportunity to have a sneak peek of the museum before any artworks get put on the wall. We wanted present different ideas of what a museum can do and so we decided to present a performance art program last August and also, this September 2017.”

The new Museum MACAN offers a fresh experience for visitors in Jakarta. The conventions of galleries and art museums being stiff, static and unappealing were challenged as it opens new opportunities to exercise audience engagement and interactivity through the museum’s programs. “With The First Sight exhibition, I do hope people begin to think about all the possibilities of art – that it is not just paintings but also different types of experiences including performance and that you do not need to be an expert to understand them. I do hope visitors have a different viewpoint and perspective about museums and galleries – that they are not an old and dusty place one visits for school excursions but it is also a place where you can experience new things and meet friends.”

Appreciating the Arts, One Gallery at a Time

Melati Suryodarmo, Eins und Eins, 2017, Performance: ‘First Sight’, 12 August 2017 at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara (Museum MACAN) © Museum MACAN

Museum MACAN is a museum for the 21st century for all facets of society to enjoy, for the Indonesian to unite and engage through art and for everyone to savor in the beauty of art both from the local and international scene. As Seeto puts it, “[Museum MACAN] is hoped to encourage art appreciation at all ages … in the future, people and locals will be able to see various exhibition programs that include artists from all around the world together with what is going on here in Indonesia.”

There have always been diversified audiences when it comes to galleries and museums in Jakarta. Museum MACAN is hoped to become a platform for all that diminishes all boundaries between those who are well informed, those of the aficionados, to those who are new and are curious to learn and explore what the industry has to offer. “Indonesians are curious and inquisitive; they like to explore new things … People should not be intimidated by art or by artists because there is much more to learn and much more to share.”

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There is certainly more room to explore, more exciting shows and events waiting to unveil. But Seeton marked Museum MACAN’s opening as a hopeful and a very promising one to the local scene. “I hope that people, once they have seen how beautiful [Museum MACAN]’s spaces are, they can be proud and be humbled to know that these kinds of places exist in Jakarta.”

Museum MACAN’s opening exhibition this upcoming November 2017 is entitled “Art Turns, World Turns” which will include about 90 works from the collection by over 70 artist from different countries across Asia, Europe and America. The exhibition will also present a historical narrative that spans two centuries and offers a reading of Indonesian art history in dialogue with world art history including some key works by artists such as Raden Saleh, S. Sudjojono, FX Harsono, Arahmaiani and international artists with familiar names like Robert Rauschenberg, Yayoi Kusama, and Jean-Michel Basquiat(Text Beata Primana)