The old building of former De Javasche Bank, built in 1829 by the Dutch, stand tall and proud on Garuda street near the historic Jembatan Merah. The Dutch utilised the place as the branch office of its headquarter in Batavia (now Jakarta) . The renovation process had started in 2010 with the cooperation of local government and universities before being completed in 2012 and opened by its current owner, Bank Indonesia. Now the place serves as a museum and public space for exhibitions or other art events.
As a matter of fact, the building itself has undergone several reconstruction process. The current building is actually the result of one reconstruction carried out in 1910 by then famous Dutch architect. The building adopted neo-renaissance architecture with a bit of local touch fused within, as seen on the carvings and wood ornaments found inside. The recent renovation process aims to conserve the original state of this building while adding various facilities to the building such as electricity and ventilation. This surely is a welcome addition as visitors now can be pampered with air-conditioning and artistic lighting inside the building, while appreciating the beauty and the historic value of this place.
When I had the chance to visit the place on November 10, the place was in the middle of exhibiting paintings made by local artists. The main hall located on the first floor was arranged to exhibit lines of artistic and beautiful paintings with diverse theme. While I’m definitely not an avid painting critics, I have to admit that I was somehow immersed into the beautifully chosen colors of the paintings and the effort each artists had pour into them. Better yet, the classic environment radiated by the building interior also enhanced the experience of viewing these artworks!
Other than the main hall, you can also see antique machines that were used by the bank in the past. There were variety of retro process automation devices that do various things on the ground floor. Among them, there are devices for sorting coins or bills, printing bank cheques, shredding money and even cutting preprinted money to invidiual bills. You can also see collection of Indonesian bills way back from the era of post-independence until the current era. And the most fascinating of all, there are gold bars on display! Well, at least replicas of them (^ ^’). These bars are displayed inside glasses and bolted tight to the base. Each display glass has holes on one side that allow visitors to directly touch the bar.
The building is now a frequent destination in Surabaya Heritage Tour pioneered by other famous museum in Surabaya, House of Sampoerna. It is officially acknowledged by local government as one of precious historal building in the city. Steady stream of domestic and foreign visitors come here everyday. It opens its doors to visitors everyday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., or so.. (I didn’t really pay attention when the staff was explaining things inside, sorry >_<‘). And the best part is, visitors can come for free!
If you still don’t have time to personally visit the place, you can see more through my photo collection here. But If you’re visiting Surabaya, this is definitely one place that you shouldn’t miss!