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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A Day At The Museum

I remember the museum in Pontianak, but I don't remember visiting the museum before. The only time I'd been anywhere close to that museum was when I parked my car in front of it, waiting for the sudden driving license inspection by the police to end. Having said that, if I were to use myself as an example, I don't think visiting museums was ever an interesting activity for Pontianak people.

It got better, though. When I was in Jakarta, my girlfriend and I went to a couple of museums while we were in Taman Mini Indonesia Indah. Years later, when I went to Malacca, I visited the red building and the Portuguese ship museums. They were alright, not very charming, but few names such as Hang Tuah and Admiral Zheng He that I read there brought me back to the history lessons during my school days.

My daughter Linda, having fun at the National Gallery.

Then, when my elder daughter knew what museum was all about, she would drag us for a visit. That's when I frequented the museums, this time in Singapore, more often than before. It was almost like our monthly affair. It did help that the museums in Singapore were well curated and taken care of, so they were really nice places to visit. My daughter's favorite were the National Gallery and National Museum of Singapore. Both were very cozy and just nice for a day activity. On top of that, there were always new exhibitions going on, so they were worth visiting again.

When I went to London, I thought the museum there must be something like what I had visited before in Singapore. Much to my surprise, it was nothing like what I'd seen before. The British Museum was huge! I'd think that the museum had the artefacts from every civilisation in the world. Didn't it sound interesting?

Nuryani, in front of the British Museum.

I thought so, too. When I walked into the exhibition room, the first thing I saw was the Rosetta Stone. How cool was that? The Rosetta Stone! Then, right behind it, there were Greek, Persian and other ancient civilisations filling up the whole left wing of the building, enough to quench my thirst for history. However, having too much history in a span of few hours was like getting overdosed. After a while, it was very hard to maintain the interest. To think that we just explored one third of the building, that was discouraging. I just wanted to get out of it.

It was the same experience for the Louvre in Paris. Long before we went to France, the Paris Pass free access to many museums in Paris seemed to be a good deal. What I didn't know was how big a museum in Europe could be. Louvre was a palace in the past and the European meant business when they built their palaces. It was beyond imagination and you had to be there to witness how spacious it was. As a result, the collection was extensive. After few iconic paintings such as Mona Lisa, as the interest faded away, the rest eventually looked like just another painting of Jesus. It didn't matter anymore who painted it, because from the eyes of a laymen, I couldn't tell the difference anyway.

The moral of the story? Museum is an interesting place to be, but only if you can sustain the interest itself. Don't be greedy and don't force it through. If the museum is too big for few hours of visit, just do the section that you like and ignore the rest, especially when you can come back next time. In the end, it's better to have a memorable visit rather than one with an awful impression...

My kind of museum, the Beatles Story.


Sehari Di Museum

Saya ingat tentang sebuah (dan mungkin satu-satunya) museum di Pontianak.  Saya tidak pernah masuk ke dalamnya. Saya hanya pernah parkir di halamannya sambil menanti bubarnya razia SIM yang diadakan oleh polisi. Jika saya menggunakan diri saya sendiri sebagai contoh, saya jadi cenderung berpikir bahwa mengunjungi museum sepertinya tidak pernah terlintas di benak orang Pontianak.  

Saya baru memasuki museum saat berada di Jakarta. Kala itu saya dan Yani berada di Taman Mini Indonesia Indah dan kita pun mengunjungi museum di sana. Bertahun-tahun kemudian, ketika saya ke Malaka, saya mengunjungi museum berwujud gedung merah dan kapal Portugis. Kondisinya lumayan, tidak terlalu bagus, tapi cukup berkesan karena mengingatkan saya kembali tentang Hang Tuah dan Laksamana Cheng Ho yang saya pelajari di sekolah. 

Museum Serangga di Taman Mini Indonesia Indah.

Kemudian, ketika putri pertama saya mulai memahami tentang museum, dia sering meminta kita untuk membawanya ke sana. Oleh karena itu, kunjungan ke museum pun boleh dikatakan menjadi kegiatan bulanan. Untung saja museum-museum di Singapura sangat terawat dan bagus, jadi enak untuk dikunjungi. Favorit anak saya adalah National Gallery dan National Museum. Dua tempat ini sangat megah dan nyaman untuk acara kunjungan di akhir pekan. Selain itu, pamerannya pun selalu diperbaharui sehingga masuk akal untuk dikunjungi berulang kali.

Ketika saya pergi ke London, saya membawa serta pengalaman dan kesan selama di Singapura. Siapa sangka museum di London teramat sangat luas? Saya rasa museum ini memiliki berbagai peninggalan dari berbagai peradaban di seluruh dunia. Tidakkah ini terdengar sangat menarik? 

Batu Rosetta di British Museum yang akhirnya membuat ilmuwan berhasilkan memecahkan tulisan hieroglif Mesir. 

Awalnya saya berpikir seperti itu juga. Ketika saya memasuki ruang pameran, yang pertama terlihat oleh saya adalah Batu Rosetta yang tersohor. Luar biasa! Setelah itu saya melihat berbagai peradaban, mulai dari Persia, Yunani dan lainnya di sekeliling ruangan di sebelah kiri gedung museum. Apa yang saya liat sungguh memuaskan dahaga saya. Kendati begitu, sejarah yang berlimpah di depan mata ternyata terasa seperti overdosis. Setelah beberapa jam, saya tidak lagi merasa tertarik. Ketika saya teringat lagi bahwa yang saya jelajahi hanyalah sepertiga gedung, saya justru merasa putus asa. Akhirnya saya keluar karena tidak tahan lagi. 

Perasaan yang sama juga tidak terelakkan ketika saya berkunjung ke Louvre di Paris. Jauh sebelum kita ke Perancis, akses gratis ke berbagai museum yang ditawarkan oleh Paris Pass terasa sangat menarik. Apa yang tidak saya mengerti adalah betapa luasnya museum di Eropa. Louvre dulunya ada sebuah istana dan orang Eropa serius dalam membangun apa yang dinamakan istana raja. Arsitekturnya benar-benar sulit dibayangkan dan anda harus berada di sana untuk memahami betapa luasnya sebuah istana raja zaman dulu. Oleh sebab itu, koleksi museumnya pun sangat ekstensif. Namun setelah beberapa lukisan terkenal seperti Mona Lisa, minat terhadap seni pun perlahan-lahan mulai meredup dan akhirnya semua terlihat seperti lukisan Yesus biasa yang bahkan tidak bisa dibedakan siapa pelukisnya oleh mata seorang awam seperti saya.

Moral dari cerita ini? Museum adalah tempat yang menarik, tapi itu sepenuhnya bergantung pada minat anda. Jangan pernah berpikiran untuk melihat semuanya, sebab di saat minat sudah memudar, akan muncul perasaan terpaksa. Jika museumnya terlalu besar, kunjungilah ke bagian yang anda suka dan tinggalkan bagian lain, terutama jika anda masih bisa kembali lagi di lain waktu. Pada akhirnya lebih baik memiliki kunjungan yang berkesan daripada kenangan yang membosankan... 

Termenung membayangkan kapan selesainya kunjungan ke Louvre ini.

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