Balai Kirti, the Indonesian Presidential Museum: Where Heads of State Remembered and Honored

August 25, 2018 | Djulianto Susantio




Indonesia highly respects its history and fully realizes the deeds of those fighting for it. It is no surprise that like other countries, Indonesia has its presidential museum named the Republic of Indonesia’s Presidential Museum Balai Kirti. Balai Kirti means the Hall of Fame in English. The word Balai comes from Sanskrit language meaning hall and Kirti, also derived from Sanskrit, means fame. Hence Balai Kirti means “A Hall that Holds Fame”.

Balai Kirti was especially built to remember and respect the children of the nation who carried the significant task as the heads of state of the country. Since its independence on August 17, 1945, Indonesia has had six Presidents including Soekarno, Soeharto, Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, Abdurrahman Wahid, Megawati Soekarnoputri, and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. All of them had their own place in the museum.



Balai Kirti is relatively new. The idea of the museum came from former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2012. It was also Yudhoyono who inaugurated the museum on October 18, 2014, not long before his term ended. This was why President Joko Widodo who took his oath at the end of 2014 is yet to have a dedicated room in the museum, given Balai Kirti was open to public on November 10, 2014.

Located in Bogor Presidential Palace, Balai Kirti stands on a 3,200-meter square land. While the building itself is 5,800-meter square in size. The museum holds various collections like pictures, books, paintings, objects of art, records, documentary movies as well as rooms equipped with IT facility.

The museum consists of three levels. On the first level there is the Nationality Gallery, the Presidential Gallery is located on the second floor, while an open garden is located on the third floor. When entering Balai Kirti, visitors would see Garuda Pancasila statue, the Proclamation, the Pancasila, the Opening of the 1945 Constitution, the Youth Pledge as well as the lyric of the national anthem “Indonesia Raya”. Furthermore, there is also a panel showing a digital map showing the development of Indonesia. The statue of the sixth President could also be seen here. Visitors could find out more about Indonesian Presidents by going through their profiles in the audio-visual room located in the Nationality Gallery.

The Presidential Gallery shows the events, achievements, and features of the six Presidents through the collections of memorabilia, clothing, decorations of services, glasses, watches, digital photo albums, short films and videos. The room also holds the memorable sayings of the Presidents, like when Soekarno said, “Never even for once leave your history behind”. Soeharto’s “We have only offered a grain of sand to strengthen the foundation of the Republic of Indonesia” saying could also be found. The museum highlighted words of Habibie “Indonesia must utilize its civilized human resources that are free, independent, productive and highly competent”. “No power deserved to be defended with blood” was the enshrined words of Abdurrahman Wahid. Megawati Soekarnoputri’s words shown in the museum is “I have flown the flag, and I will never surrender even if I am the last person standing”. Last but not least, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s enshrined quote is “Power is tempting. Use it with full mandate for the interest of the nation”.

The Presidential Library is located on the second floor. In this place we could also see the book collection of the Presidents, books written by the Presidents, as well as reference books used by the presidents and books about the work of the government and state. Lastly, the garden beautifully positioned on the third floor showcases tropical plants, and from here visitors could enjoy the full view of the Bogor Palace.

Balai Karti also comes with a contemporary room filled with various objects of art and unique backgrounds that can be used as photo booths.

While visiting the museum, it is worthwhile to tour the entire Bogor Palace area. The Bogor Palace was initially built as a villa for the Dutch Governor General G.W. Baron van Imhoff in 1745. The design of the palace was inspired from that of the Bleinheim Palace in Oxford, UK. But in 1750 when Imhoff’s term was over, the building was not yet completed. Imhoff’s successor, Yacob Mossel, continued the construction immediately.

After the 1834 earthquake, most of the building was destroyed. Hence the colonial government built a new palace. The palace was ready in 1850. In 1870 the Buitenzorg Palace or the Bogor Palace was recognized as the residence of Dutch Governor Generals.

During Japan’s occupancy (1942-1945), objects in the palace were seized. After the World War II, the Allies and the Gurkha army controlled the Bogor Palace. Finally, in 1949 the palace was back in the hands of Indonesia. The Indonesian government quickly renovated the building according to its use as one of the Presidential Palaces.

Being located in a presidential palace, there are certain prerequisite when entering the museum, such as producing a proposal beforehand.

So, if you want to visit the palace or the museum, kindly send your proposal to the Head of the Republic of Indonesia’s Presidential Museum via email to


Djulianto Susantio
Lahir pada 7 Juli 1959 di Jakarta. Menamatkan pendidikan S-1 Arkeologi UI pada 1985. Pernah menjadi tim publikasi untuk beberapa penerbitan/buku di Kementerian Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan serta Badan Perpustakaan dan Arsip Daerah DKI Jakarta. Bergabung dalam Perkumpulan Ahli Arkeologi Indonesia. Sejak 2017 menjadi penasihat untuk komunitas bernama Kelompok Pemerhati Budaya dan Museum Indonesia (KPBMI)

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