In hindsight, it should’ve been an easier decision than it was. Just over a year ago, I got a call from Haryanto Adikoesoemo, the entrepreneur-art collector behind Museum MACAN, Indonesia’s first major contemporary art museum that opens in Jakarta next month. He wanted to make me director. At first, I wasn’t sure. I was the curatorial manager of Asian Art at GOMA Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane, and I wasn’t really looking to move. But then I realised it was such a rare opportunity: not just to lead a museum, but build one. And build one in a city where it could make such an epic difference. Jakarta has had one of region’s most active art scenes for years, of course. But what’s been missing, I think, is a properly developed museum infrastructure. And I don’t just mean a space with expensive art on the walls. Yes, developed over 25 years, our collection is amazing. Works from the likes of Damien Hirst, Mark Rothko, Jeff Koons, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol, displayed alongside Indonesian greats like Raden Saleh, FX Harsono and Heri Dono, will be a big, big moment for the art scene here and in the region. But just as important for Indonesia, I think, is the museum’s civic function: we want a space where people can come, contemplate, and confront the value of art in a public space. At which point what I am often asked is, well, is the city really ready for that? And it’s an interesting question. Especially in Jakarta, a city where art has caused controversy in the past. In the early 1990s, in fact, Arahmaiani Feisal, one of the country’s most important artists, mounted a solo show in Jakarta where one of her works, a graphic piece exploring gender identity called Lingga-Yoni 1994, caused so much furore that she fled to Australia. But it’s a very significant work to the history of Indonesian contemporary art that helps us illustrate the role of the museum: not just to preserve and present these historic moments in our art history, but, even though we’re a private museum, to develop a public forum where the value of these works can be seen, discussed and the issues they explore can be sensibly, sensitively debated. Of course, we still live in a complex society. Even so, I think Indonesia is now ready for that debate. And, this time, with a museum the scale and scope of MACAN, the whole world, we hope, will be listening.