Oktober 28, 2014

Is the Indonesian Museum an Irrelevant Western Colonial Relic?


THIS PAPER questions whether the manifest problems with the performance of Indonesian museums are due to the unfortunate fact that they are essentially colonial relics. This is an important element in public attitudes to the museums and thus a deeply relevant question to ask in theorizing museology in Indonesia.

Based on a decade of ethnographic observation of the National Museum of Indonesia and on comparative case studies at the Museum Istiqlal and Textiles Museum both in Jakarta, at the Provincial Museum and the Tsunami Museum in Banda Aceh and at three museums in Jambi, these being the Provincial Museum, the History Museum and the museum at Muarajambi archaeological site, the paper will comment upon the state of research and education in these museums in the context of the 2010-2014 Government of Indonesia revitalization program.

Specifically it will theorize the importance of integrating Indonesian museum education into local and national school and university curriculum and how when framed in the applied context of the digital humanities provide opportunities for overcoming the unfortunate general irrelevance these museums have in the public sphere.[]


Jonathan Zilberg, “Is the Indonesian Museum an Irrelevant Western Colonial Relic?”, Paper presented at The Isaac Kramrick Seminar, Southeast Asia Program (SEAP), Cornell University, October 21, 2014.

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