To visitors interested in recent Indonesian history, Museum Rumah Soekarno in Ende offers a sneak-peek into the imprinting stage of life of the nation’s most characteristic leadership figure and time travel through the nation’s past era of independence struggle within an already shaking colonial power.
The museum is actually the former residence where Soekarno, Indonesia’s first president, spent his years in exile from 1934 to 1938. Soekarno has gained almost heroic status in the eyes of many Indonesians and is also considered to be somewhat the ‘father of the nation’. He was exiled by the Dutch colonial government due to his anti-colonial and nationalist activism.
His exile was not a single case, though, as some other nationalist movement leaders were also exiled by the Dutch in the early 1930s to limit the anti-colonial influence of these earlypromoters of independence. When Soekarno became president in 1954, he turned his exile residence in Ende into a museum called Rumah Soekarno, or ‘Soekarno’s house’.
The house has hardly anything in common with a presidential suite, but is architecturally simple with minimalistic interior furnishing. As the renovations have not changed the basic original condition, Rumah Soekarno gives you a good idea about Soekarno’s modest daily life during his exile years. The house featurestwo bedrooms, a living room, an office, and rooms for domestic servants.
The furniture is still original and the walls are decorated with historical photographs and paintings. Some of these artworks were created by Soekarno himself. In the backyard of the house, the long-standing well is still dispensing water. From time to time, admirers of Soekarno even use it as a kind of holy water to complete the pilgrimage-like journey to the home of their national hero.
During years of exile in Ende, Soekarno was not only an enthusiastic painter, but also a passionate playwright. He founded a theater group named Kelimutu that performed his plays and subtly continued to spread his political messages. One of his plays was Dokter Setan (Satanic Doctor), a Frankenstein-like story about a doctor who created a new being out of different corpses. The topics of fragmentation, re-composition, and loss of control may be interpreted as hinting at Indonesia’s past situation as a colonized nation and its struggle to become an independent unity.
Rumor has it that Soekarno was also inspired to the Indonesian national philosophy known as ‚Pancasila‘ during his exile years in Ende. More precisely, some people say that he composed it under a tall breadfruit tree in a place that has now become Bung Karno Contemplation Park.
How to get there
The museum is located on Jalan Perwira in Ende. FromDwi Putra Hotel, it takes only 10 minutes on foot. There is no charge for entrance fee, but donations are recommended. Opening hours are Monday to Sunday from 8am – 5pm.