Netherlands returns 1,500 historical artifacts to Indonesia

The Dutch government has returned 1,500 historical artifacts to Indonesia, four years after an agreement was made with the Education and Culture Ministry.

“Basically, there are 1,500 [objects] that used to be held in the Nusantara Museum in Delft, Netherlands, which were returned to Indonesia through the national museum,” Education and Culture Ministry culture director-general Hilman Farid said at a press conference at the National Museum in Central Jakarta as quoted by tempo.co.

The 100-year-old Nusantara Museum was the only museum in the Netherlands dedicated specifically to art and cultural objects from Indonesia, a former Dutch colony, and it closed its doors in 2013 due to financial difficulties.

The museum had initially offered to hand over around 12,000 artifacts to Indonesia, but the culture director-general opted to accept a selection of 1,500 objects instead.

The repatriation process symbolically started in November 2016, when Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte presented President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo with a Bugis keris from the collection.

“This is the first time in the history of Indonesia that Indonesian cultural objects or artifacts that were taken [to the Netherlands] are returned,” Hilman said. “This is very historic and we want to share it with the public. Hopefully, this paves the way for the return of objects in other European museums.”

The ministry's culture directorate general also announced the news on its official Instagram account @budayasaya.

National Museum head Siswanto said the museum would present the artifacts to the public in an exhibition scheduled for June 2020.

He added that the returned artifacts would not just be limited to the National Museum.

“Other museums will also have the opportunity to get back their cultural objects. This offer might encourage regional museums to improve the quality of their collection.”

Golkar lawmaker Adrianus Asia Sidot of the House Commission X, which oversees art and culture, said he appreciated the Dutch government’s decision to return the artifacts.

“The return [of the artifacts] is a very meaningful New Year’s gift,” Adrianus said in a statement on the official House of Representatives website.

“Going forward, we have the responsibility to safeguard, secure and take care of these valuable historical relics. If other nations value Indonesia’s culture, we should value it even more.” (kmt)

Source: The Jakarta Post

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