“Don’t forget to bring an umbrella” said a lady on the other line before I hung up the phone.
Being a pure Javanese, a visit to this Javanese art and culture museum is something that was quite special. A wish to visit Ullen Sentalu museum has been there, in my thoughts and my heart, for a long time. It wasn’t the problem of not having time to visit the museum, but just the matter finding the right time. One fine Sunday I had a casual morning and suddenly the idea came up. ‘I think it would be nice to visit the museum today.’ Twenty minutes later I had phoned the museum and was driving to Kaliurang.
I arrived at the Ullen Sentalu Museum around 1 pm, parked my scooter and walked to the ticket locket. I was told that I needed to wait until 1.30 pm to get the ticket (at that moment the museum entrance was super busy). I should tell you that this museum will gather a maximum of 25 people into one group and assign a guide for the group. So sometimes you need to wait like 30-45 minutes before starting the tour. The tour itself takes around 50 minutes.
A lady named Anis was assigned as our group guide, she was very knowledgeable and so funny. The museum was also very pleasant and nice to explore. Some parts of the museum are open air, which is why I was asked to bring my umbrella.
One of the things I really liked about the Ullen Sentalu museum was the concept of not allowing guests to take pictures inside. That said, there are several areas that you are allowed to snap some photos. With that rule, people pay more attention to the guide and read the exhibit descriptions.
Ullen Sentalu museum has four areas (I guess it was four, unless I completely forget something), which are the basement, the labyrinth ‘floating’ on the water, garden and a gallery showing several paintings and statues. The museum showcases a lot of old photographs, paintings, fabrics, old letters and statues that show Javanese culture – expressions, historical knowledge, representations, practices and skills.
One of my favourite exhibits was the batik fabrics from Solo and Yogyakarta , well it was actually two chambers, Batik from Solo and Batik from Yogyakarta. There you can see classic Batik motifs and the real difference between Solo and Yogya styles. The motifs of the batik from Solo are smaller and softer with yellow gold-ish kind of color than the style from Yogyakarta. Batik from Yogyakarta is bold using white and shades of dark brown. You’ll be flooded with information about what this or that specific motif means.
Tineke room was also my favourite (Tineke is younger sister of Pakubuwana XII). You’ll read many handwritten letters that are mostly very romantic and heartwarming , or otherwise heartbreaking.
Before the tour ends, Mbak Anis invited us all to an open space where she wrapped up the tour and allowed us to take some snaps. There is a big wall, kind of a wall where you’ll find a temple, that is not straight. Mbak Anis said that this symbolizes the museum’s owner disappointment that many youngster ignore the history and culture of their own nation. History and culture that slowly fades and is neglected is the beginning of the destruction of a nation.
I had a light chat with Mbak Anis. She said during peak season, she can guide six groups a day. She also shares how happy she was to see that our group was passionate to hear about her explanations.
At the end of the tour Mbak Anis took us to the Beukenhof Restaurant & Café and store where you can buy souvenirs, books and clothes (mostly Batik). She withdrew politely while we thanked her for being a superb guide.
I felt amazingly happy after my visit to the Ullen Sentalu museum. It was quite an intense history and cultural lesson that lasted almost an hour. At the end of the tour I treated myself to dessert and a cup of coffee at the Beukenhof café. What a perfect Sunday!
Ullen Sentalu Museum
Jalan Boyong KM 25, Kaliurang Barat, Sleman, Yogyakarta
Phone number: +62 274 895161
Wonder how to get to Ullen Sentalu museum? Read about it here. The easiest way to visit is by renting a car. If you plan to do this I can help. Find out about my Yogyakarta car rental services for Discover Your Indonesia readers here.
Have you ever been to Ullen Sentalu museum? Share with me your stories and your favourite part of the museum! If you haven’t been there, you should definitely visit!
If you are interested in booking accommodation for your holiday in Yogyakarta I recommend Airbnb. Book through this link to receive a special $25 discount. For hotel bookings I recommend Agoda for its low price and discounts.