Museums slowly back in business as Jakarta eases restrictions
Works of art are indeed best viewed at some distance, but the virtual museum tour we currently have because of the COVID-19 pandemic has not been a satisfying alternative to enjoying each of a collection’s pieces.
In Jakarta, several museums run by the city administration, such as the Taman Prasasti (Memorial Stone or Inscription Park) Museum, the Maritime Museum, the Textile Museum and the Betawi Cultural Village, have started to open their doors to the public with some restrictions applied.
Overall, Jakarta has over 70 museums, including private-owned or managed by other government institutions.
The government-run National Gallery of Indonesia has also put health measures in place before reopening in the coming week, with the safety of the collections, museum employees and visitors in mind.
The busiest museum located at the heart of the capital city hopes to welcome visitors back after closing on March 17 but with limited access.
It will only reopen its free-admission Permanent Exhibition hall on the second floor of B Building, which displays state collections to represent the history of arts development in Indonesia..
In an episode titled “Treating Art Collections Amid the Pandemic”, a part of the Bicara Rupa discussion series, the gallery’s conservators shared their strategy and measures to keep both the collections and visitors safe during the global health crisis.
Masks, he said, would be compulsory with tight monitoring of physical distancing rules.
The museum will limit the number of visitors in one room at the same time and replace on-site ticket purchases with an e-ticketing system to avoid lines and prevent physical contact.
The gallery has also installed sinks around the compound for visitors to wash their hands and have their temperature checked before entering buildings and setting up protocols for visitors while using restrooms.
The gallery’s management even considered placing plastic shields at the receptionist desk and — as requested by many participants in the public discussion — glass covers for the art collections.
“As we protect art collections that are sensitive to the exposure of sunlight and humidity, we keep them in display rooms or storage rooms with minimum ventilation and controlled temperatures, which actually be a breeding ground for viruses,” he said.
“Therefore, we carried out preventive measures by cleaning and sterilizing the rooms and the collections on a regular basis.”
In the hope that other museums, gallery owners and private collectors will follow suit, he said that the National Gallery’s preventive measures had proven effective in maintaining the artworks’ condition in the past two months.