Kunstkring Paleis which located in Gondangdia now is known as one of the luxurious fine dining restaurant. However, before known as today, the building designed by Adriaan Jacobus Moojen Oieter was subjected to various forms of conflict and abandonment. Built in 1914, Kunstkring which has meaning as art circle is intended to hold various art events in Jakarta until 1936. Then its function as a place of art changed into office for A’la Indonesian Islamic Council (1942-1945). Then in 1950 and 1997 became home to the Immigration office in Central Jakarta. In 1997, Tommy Soeharto bought the building.
After this purchase, Kunstkring began its dark ages, it was abandoned and attracted thieves to stole the structure of the building. Ornament that once decorated the stairs in Kunstkring was sold on the black market. To save Kunstkring, Jakarta’s Government bought back the building with the figure of 23-28 billion dollars. After this purchase, the govt announced a public contest to accommodate the aspirations of the public for Kunstkring. Massive redecoration conducted to restore the original shape of Kunstkring. However, in the same year Kunstkring changed into Buddha Bar. Diversion of Kunstkring to Buddha Bar invited many controversies that led to the Buddha Bar closed. When Buddha Bar closed, Kunstkring taken over by Bistro Boulevard, a restaurant serving western food on the menu.
Then, Kunstkring began to return to its original shape when handled by Tugu Hotel Group under the management of Annette Anhar. Through an interview with Jakartanistic, Annette said that in 2005, Kunstkring was not in a good shape and at that time she had a wishful thinking to restore Kunstkring to its original shape. “I said to this building, if I got you, I will keep and take care of you.” And who would have thought in 2011, Annette managed to realize her dream. “There are a lot of renovations conducted. We were very careful, so that the soul of this building is not lost. 2nd floor functioned as an art gallery where there would be exhibitions and discussions. While downstairs for the restaurant, cafe, and gallery.”
Kunstkring was designed in such a way that it becomes an artistic place. There is a room named Prince Diponegoro that equipped with giant painting of “The Fall of Java,” depicting the arrest of Prince Diponegoro by VOC. There is also Suzie Wong’s room, decorated by 2 original poster taken from Djakarta Theater. Suzie Wong also armed with rickshaw and red color to create a sense of orientalism. Some of the other rooms named as Soekarno and as you can guess, this room is dedicated to the former President of Indonesia. There are also Raden Saleh, Multatuli, and others. From the outside, the building might look intimidating, but worry not you can go to this place freely.
Jalan Teuku Umar No.1, Menteng, Kota Jakarta Pusat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 10350, Indonesia
+62 21 3900898
Text by: Tatu Hutami
Photo by: Anies Wildani & Tatu Hutami