Museum Malang Tempo Doeloe – The History of Malang, East Java

Submitted by viravira on 11 December 2013   •  Destination

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There’s nothing more inspiring than a person who is strong-willed and pursuits the ambition for the good of her/himself and others. Malang city is fortunate to have a citizen such Dwi Cahyono, who has built one of the best museums in Indonesia, called Museum Malang Tempo Doeloe, using his own resources. He’s also the owner of Inggil restaurant right next door to the museum, which I will write about later.

The name of the museum means “Malang In The Past”. While it does look waaaay back to the prehistoric time, Museum Malang Tempo Doeloe dedicates quite a lot of its display portion to the history of Indonesian independence in general.

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Welcome to Museum Malang Tempo Doeloe

The Chronological Display in Museum Malang Tempo Doeloe

Before, There Was Nothing

Entering Museum Malang Tempo Doeloe is like entering a time tunnel, starting from the time when Malang was just a plain surrounded by mountains of Bromo Tengger, Kawi, Arjuno, and Semeru. Beneath that plain, laid remains of prehistoric times. Fossils and artifacts are displayed in the museum, as well as the process of excavation itself! The bald archeologists seriously surprised me, I thought they were real, working in that dramatic blue underground chamber!

Museum Malang

Before Malang existed.

Singasari Kingdom

A tunnel of forest then lead us to the era of Singasari Kingdom, which was founded in 13th century. Singasari was one of the most important kingdoms in the history of Indonesia, maybe even Asia. The kingdom, which was founded by the tricky and powerful Ken Arok, expanded its territory to Bali, Borneo, even the Malay Peninsula at the reign of Kertanegara, their last king. Singasari Kingdom later on became the predecessor of the Majapahit Kingdom, which was even more powerful and expansive and ruled until the 15th century.

Museum Malang

The best part of the museum: floating Ken Arok and Mpu Gandring! 

Key figures of the kingdom were displayed in ways I’ve never seen before, at least not in Indonesian museums. Ken Arok was afloat in his meditation, the keris maker Mpu Gandring was levitating, and the (supposedly) beautiful Ken Dedes was sitting beside a statue of herself. Dude, as beautiful as she was supposed to be, to me she was the scariest of all in the museum, sitting in a dark corner with her long black hair. I had to ask Diyan to take the picture so I didn’t have to look at her for too long. Yeah, I’m a Scaredy Smurf K

Museum Malang

Ken Dedes (left) and Prajnaparamita (right) that’s believed to symbolize her in one of the Javanese temples.

The Vintage Life

You can perhaps imagine the old domestic life of the Javanese by seeing the displays of artifacts, such as the earthenware vessels, the corn grinder made of stone, a wooden food mixer, and a mouse trap. Most of these equipments are predicted to spring up from the early of 20th century.

Museum Malang

Old Javanese domestic equipments and spices in jars.


And then you enter a tunnel with various vintage things mostly from the 1900s to 1940s, like cameras, phones, bicycles and suitcases. Things that hipsters would definitely love to have nowadays – and I’m not saying I wouldn’t.

Museum Malang

Bicycle on the wall (Spidercycle?), old photos on the walls, and stuff hipsters would love!

Toward Independence!

A hallway plastered with pictures of Indonesian battles over independence connected the kingdom era to the Japanese colonial era. Prisons, war rooms, propaganda magazine covers, forefather statues and war helmets ended the tour in the museum.

Museum Malang

Fighting for independence!

Why I Love This Museum

Museum Malang Tempo Doeloe may be one of Indonesia’s best museums so far, especially in terms of display (another good one is the Ullen Sentalu), but I wouldn’t compare it to big museums in Singapore, US, or maybe Europe. I admit that Indonesians in general have poor archiving and lack of appreciation toward history. That is why I think Museum Malang Tempo Doeloe is a gem in an underrated city of Malang.

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Awing at the museum displays.


Museum Malang Tempo Doeloe is located in the heart of Malang city, onli 5 minutes walk from the Tugu monument.

Address: Jalan Gajah Mada 2, Malang.

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The lobby of Museum Malang Tempo Doeloe.

Entrance Fee & Opening Hours

Opens everyday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Entrance fee:

IDR 10,000 (kindergarten – middle school students),

IDR 15,000 (high school students, college students, people with Malang ID)

IDR 25,000 (anybody other than the stated above, except maybe toddlers).


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2 Comments on "Museum Malang Tempo Doeloe – The History of Malang, East Java"

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Jeannette Coppens
Jeannette Coppens
5 years 5 months ago

The museum is situated in the former home of my grandparents. My grandfather, John Polak, was a doctor. Behind the house was a pavillion, where friends of the family lived. There was also an inhouse pharmacy.
When I was 10 years old the house was a military post.

5 years 5 months ago

Great information. You must have heard a lot of stories about the museum in the past?