412 Historic Artefacts to Return Home to Sarawak, Malaysia
On 22 November, in the historic surroundings of Museum Prinsenhof in Delft, the Netherlands, YB Datuk Haji Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports of the Sarawak State Government, Malaysia, received one of the 412 historic artefacts which have been donated by the City of Delft to the Sarawak Museum to be displayed in the exhibition galleries of the new Sarawak Museum Campus.
A delegation from Sarawak, led by YB Datuk Karim, brought an appreciation visit to the city of Delft to convey the gratitude of the Sarawak State Government. The Deputy Mayor of Delft, Mr. Ferrie Forster, and the Director of Heritage Delft, Mrs. Janelle Moerman, ceremonially handed over the collection to the Minister and Mr. Ipoi Datan, director of the Sarawak Museum.
In his speech, YB Datuk Karim conveyed the gratitude of the Sarawak State Government on the generous donation of the highly unique 412 Bornean ethnographic items to the Sarawak Museum. He added that: ‘The donation greatly complements the Sarawak Museum’s own collection and augurs well to assist in achieving its Vision of becoming the “Global Centre for Bornean Heritage by 2030.” The Sarawak government is ever keen to ensure that such artefacts that originated from Borneo, the world’s third largest island, would be returned to its original abode.’ Datuk Karim, in his speech, acknowledged the role that Mr. Hans van de Bunte, the Senior Project Director of the Sarawak Museum Campus, had played in this matter.
In early 2018, after the artefacts have arrived in Sarawak, an exhibition will be set up at the Textile Museum in Kuching to show a selection of the Nusantara artefacts to the public. A special edition of the booklets on the Sarawak Museum’s collections will be published alongside the exhibition. For both the exhibition and booklet YB Datuk Karim extended his gratitude to the Dutch Embassy in Malaysia for their kind support and very helpful sponsorship.
Museum Nusantara, in the city of Delft, The Netherlands, closed its doors to the public in 2013 and the city government with Heritage Delft started a project to find new museum owners for the collection of artefacts. The possibility to acquire a selection of historic artefacts from Borneo came under the attention of the Sarawak Museum Campus’ Senior Project Leader. The Sarawak Museum, a member of ASEMUS, was seen as the appropriate location for this collection. A formal request was prepared and initiated the successful donation by the Dutch institute to the Sarawak Museum.
YB Datuk Karim extended an invitation to the city of Delft to attend the opening of the exhibition in Sarawak in early 2018. He offered the city of Delft the opportunity to collaborate with the Sarawak Museum to co-organise any events or activities, like seminars or exhibitions, for their mutual benefit, to be held in Sarawak in 2019, which happens to be Visit Sarawak Year.
The Sarawak Museum Campus and Heritage Trail
The Sarawak Museum Campus is a State-funded project to revive the international status of the Sarawak Museum and to build a new museum to showcase Sarawak’s rich cultural and historical heritage which will incorporate education and public outreach programmes. Its main goal is to establish a world-class museum campus and become one of the best museums in the region.
The objectives of the Sarawak Museum Campus include:
- Establishing a world-class museum campus and restoring its status as one of the best museums in the region
- Developing a new main museum building to showcase Sarawak’s rich cultural and historical heritage and provide visitor facilities for all.
- Setting up an internationally recognized Sarawak Heritage Conservation Centre for research into Sarawak’s Heritage with conservation laboratories, collection storage facilities, research and museum staff offices, a library and the museum archive.
- Ensuring conservation of the historic Sarawak Museum building and exhibitions to its former glory in an early 20th-century style museology and conservation of the ancillary buildings and gardens.
- Harnessing the potential for education and public outreach through educational programmes for all, especially to younger generations.
- Strengthening cultural tourism to Kuching and Sarawak.
The permanent exhibition galleries at the new museum span 6,000 sq. meters and research on the collections is being done by academic specialists to give depth to the exhibition storyline and provide new academic insights. The exhibition storyline is developed with a strong research background, and will be presented in an accessible format so that it engages with a local and broad audience. Especially as it will be presenting exciting knowledge about the local communities, culture, history and archeology of Sarawak and Borneo at large.
For about the activities of the Sarawak Museum Department, please visit http://www.museum.sarawak.gov.my/
Pictured above: delegations of Sarawak and Delft, 22 November 2017; box, bamboo, early 20th century; jacket, bark, early 20th century