Museum of The Asian-African Conference
The Asian-African Conference which was held on 18th to 24th April 1955 in Bandung gained a big success both in formulating common concerns and in preparing operational guidance for cooperation among Asian African Nation as well as in creating world order and world peace. The conference has had a result Dasasila Bandung, which became the guideline for the colonized countries in fighting for their independence. It also became the fundamental principles in promoting world peace and international cooperation. The success of the conference was not only for the time being but also for the time after so that the soul and spirit of the Asian-African Conference becomes one of the most important factor that deciding world history.
All is a huge prestige that gained by the Asian African Nations. The spirit of Bandung had succeeded in widening the work volume among Asian African Nations. As a consequence, their influence and their role in international cooperation are increased and more respected.
In order to maintain those mentions above, it is important if the Asian-African Conference with its event is maintained eternally in a museum where the conference was held, Gedung Merdeka, Bandung, a city that is considered as a capital city and a source of inspiration for the Asian-African Nations.
As a Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof. Dr. Mochtar Kusumaatmadja, S.H., LL.M., often met and got involved in some discussions with some of the Asian African Leaders. They frequently asked him about Gedung Merdeka and City of Bandung, which was the venue of the Asian-African Conference. The discussions were always ended with their wishes to be able to visit Bandung and Gedung Merdeka.
Inspired by desires to eternalize the Asian-African Conference, the idea of establishing a Museum of the Asian-African Conference in Gedung Merdeka was born by Prof. Dr. Mochtar Kusumaatmadja, S.H., LL.M.. The idea was delivered in the meeting of the Committee for the Commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the Asian-African Conference (1980), which was attended by Directorate General of Culture, Prof. Dr. Haryati Soebadio as a representative for the Department of Culture and Education. Fortunately, the idea was fully supported including President of the Republic of Indonesia, Soeharto.
The idea of establishing the Museum of the Asian-African Conference had been materialized by Joop Ave, the Executive Chairman of the Committee of the 25th Anniversary of the Asian-African Conference and Director General of Protocol and Consular in the Department of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with Department of Information, Department of Education and Culture, the Provincial Government of West Java, and Padjadjaran University. The technical planning and its execution was carried out by PT Decenta, Bandung.
The Museum of the Asian-African Conference was inaugurated by President of the Republic of Indonesia, Soeharto on 24th April 1980 as the culmination of the 25th Anniversary of the Asian-African Conference.
Gedung Merdeka (The Venue of the Asian African Conference)
Gedung Merdeka located on Jalan Asia Afrika Number 65Bandung was built in 1895 as a meeting place for European people, especially who lived in Bandung and its surroundings. Most of them were the owner of the tea plantation and Dutch officers.
They established a society which was well known as Societeit Concordia on 29th June 1879. The purpose of the society was "...... de bevordering van gezellig verkeer". As a meeting place, at first they used to gather having some tea in the Warung De Vries. Afterwards, (1895) they moved in to a building opposite to the Warung De Vries, named Concordia which takes 7.983 meter square. In that year, the building was a simple one which its walls were made of wood and the source of its light at night were only gasoline lanterns. The building was located in the corner of "Groote Postweg " (now Jalan Asia Afrika) and "Bragaweg" (now Jalan Braga). Its left wing is next to Tjikapoendoeng River (Cikapundung) which was very comfortable since there were many thick trees grew.
Societeit Concordia Building was rebuilt in 1921 in a more functional and structural modern architecture (Art Deco) by designer C. P Wolff Schoemaker.
The building modified its façade and became the most luxurious, complete, exclusive and modern "super club" building in Indonesia. The floors were made of Italian marbles. The bar and common room were made of cikenhout wood, while the gorgeous crystal chandeliers were the lamplights. The rooms inside the building had a capacity to accommodate various art performances. The land covered 7,500 m².
Societeit Concordia was renovated again in 1940 with new international style architecture with the help of Architect A. F Aalbers. This new architecture style was marked by plasterboard with a flat roof. The front part of the building consisted of lines and horizontal elements, while inside of the building was dominated by cubism style. During the Japanese occupation (1942 – 1945), the name of Societeit Concordia Building was changed into Dai Toa Kaikan and functioned as the cultural centre.
After Indonesian proclamation of independence on August 17, 1945, the building was used as the headquarter of Indonesian youth in Bandung in order to fight the Japanese troops who were not willing to surrender. Since 1949, in the occupation government, Societeit Concordia Building was renovated and refunctioned as Societeit Concordia, the gathering place of Europeans (including some of Indonesians) The building was again used for art performances, parties, restaurants and other gatherings as well.
Regarding Indonesian Government decree (1954) to inaugurate Bandung as the city of Asian-African, Societeit Concordia Building was chosen as the venue for the conference, because it was the biggest and most luxurious building in Bandung.
Furthermore, it was located in the middle of the city and close to the best hotels in town, Savoy Homann and Preanger Hotel. Since the beginning of 1955, Societiet Concordia Building was started to be renovated to accommodate its function as the venue for international conference. The renovation was managed by Department of Public Works, Province of West Java, headed by Ir. R. Srigati Santoso. Prior to the conference, the building was renamed by President Soekarno and became Gedung Merdeka (April 7, 1955).
For more information, please visit the official Museum of The Asian-African Conference website