Special Exhibit

70 for 70

This U.S. Department of State exhibit is curated and organized by Meridian International Center, Washington, D.C.

Over the past seventy years, the governments of Indonesia and the United States have deepened the understanding and partnerships between our two nations through official visits. In 1956, President Sukarno made his first of four visits to the United States, which included stops at businesses, universities, and tourist destinations from the Empire State Building to the Grand Canyon. His successor, President Suharto, met with six American presidents over six separate trips to the United States during his 31-year tenure.

Richard Nixon was the first U.S. president to visit Indonesia, in 1969. Since that historic trip, seven U.S. presidents and countless American delegations have made official visits to Indonesia to discuss topics such as security, trade, partnerships, diversity, and economics. In addition to heads of state, vice presidents, attorneys general, and foreign ministers have also shaped diplomacy between the two nations. Vice President Michael Pence noted during his 2017 visit to Jakarta, “Through our continued partnership, the United States and Indonesia will continue to maintain a peaceful, stable, and a prosperous Southeast Asia for the benefit of both of our nations and for the benefit of the world.”
The governments of Indonesia and the United States have collaborated on numerous projects to improve health and infrastructure throughout the archipelago over the last 70 years. These efforts include promoting maternal and newborn health, eradicating malaria and tuberculosis, raising the availability of care for all Indonesians, and sharing resources, expertise, and training.

American citizens have often worked closely with Indonesians on projects to promote health and well-being. Project HOPE, a volunteer organization that has provided health care for millions around the world, has been active in Indonesia since the 1960 maiden voyage of its hospital ship, the SS HOPE. In times of Indonesia’s greatest need, such as the 2004 tsunami, the U.S. government, along with American organizations, corporations, and concerned citizens, has contributed millions of dollars in aid. American civilians and servicemen alike have traveled to Indonesia to assist with reconstruction efforts. This support has helped Indonesians to rebuild, demonstrating that we are stronger when facing challenges together.
Business and trade bring Indonesians and Americans together daily, as the economies of two of the world’s largest countries have become closely intertwined. Half a century ago, the United States was a leading member of the Inter-Governmental Group that worked with Indonesia to stabilize its debt, raise international development funding, and discuss economic policies. U.S. assistance and advice helped the government of Indonesia to invest more in its infrastructure, agriculture, industries, social services, and economy.

Today, programs that encourage economic development are increasingly dedicated to sharing knowledge and sparking innovation. American and Indonesian companies, recognizing the value of Indonesia’s environmental capital, are collaborating to conserve the country’s unique natural resources and promote more sustainable livelihoods through fair trade, ecotourism, and green energy initiatives. The U.S. and Indonesian governments are partnering with American corporations to provide technical expertise and encourage creativity among future engineers, artists, and business leaders. Both nations are dedicated to implementing not only the technology of today, but also to discovering the innovations of tomorrow.
Educational partnership and exchange are the foundation for future generations of Indonesians and Americans. Indonesian economists who advanced their nation’s prosperity in the second half of the twentieth century developed many of their successful ideas while studying in the United States. Similarly, for several decades, American students traveled throughout the Indonesian archipelago to learn from the country’s incomparable biological and cultural diversity.

The U.S. government, in conjunction with the government of Indonesia, provides educational opportunities to thousands of Indonesians and Americans through scholarships, programs, and exchanges such as the flagship Fulbright fellowships, Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education (LPDP) scholarships, and new Sustainable Higher Education Research Alliances (SHERA). One well-known American who studied in Indonesia is former president Barack Obama, who spent part of his childhood in Java and learned life lessons that guided his leadership a half-century later. Reflecting on his years in Jakarta, President Obama remarked, “My time here helped me appreciate the humanity of all people.”
The remarkable diversity of both Indonesia and the United States is apparent in two cultures that are celebrated internationally for their contributions to the arts. Together, the United States and Indonesia share a history of cultural and innovative partnerships that have influenced and enriched the citizens of both nations.

World-renowned batik and textile traditions of Indonesia are widely acclaimed in the United States, prominently featured on New York Fashion Week runways and through the American Batik Design Competition. Traditional and modern Indonesian music have inspired American musicians to create gamelan ensembles throughout the United States, while American hip hop and classical musicians bring their artistry to Indonesian audiences. On the basketball court, thousands of Indonesian youths and teachers participate in NBA-sponsored programs. Cultural exchanges in sports, music, fashion, and beyond continue to encourage and celebrate this collaborative creativity between our nations.