8 January - 17 February: Mapping History KITLV world-class collections and scholarship on Indonesia

The exhibition in the gallery of the Erasmus Huis, the Dutch Cultural Centre in Jakarta, Indonesia presents highlights of the collections and activities of the KITLV/Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies.

Mapping History

It is perhaps needless to say how difficult it is to make a selection out of over one million (and counting) items that constitute KITLV's collections on Indonesia. Apart from some unique, spectacular, and other ‘just nice’ pieces, the items are grouped in three main themes: ‘Water’, ‘Work’ and ‘Batavia/Jakarta’. These three themes are represented by photographs, books, manuscripts, audio-visual materials, and a few other items such as a unique drawing by Raden Saleh Syarif Bustaman (1807-1880).

Most of the original items on show have been selected from KITLV's showcase publication Treasures which is especially reprinted and made available on the occasion of this exhibition.

Many fine photographs are on display. You will see that the theme ‘Water’ is represented by photographs that focus on bathing, laundries, and—inevitably—floods. ‘Work’ is represented by a collection of remarkable and artistic photographs of the machine factory Braat NV in Surabaya, early 20th century. These photos were taken by the Scotsman G.P. Lewis (1875-1926), who spent 20 years in Indonesia and later became known for his photography during the Great War. And a perfect combination of ‘Work’ and ‘Water’ we find in the impressive photograph series recording the construction of the Tuntang hydro-electric power station in 1919. For ‘Batavia’ we have a special selection of photographs all made by the famous firm Woodbury & Page that operated in Indonesia from the late 1850’s into the early twentieth century.  

Digital resources at KITLV are already manifold and will be aggressively expanded as the focus of KITLV's upcoming activities. The digital image collection is already famous and heavily used by Indonesian visitors. An example of a fantastic electronic resource for books is the Acehbooks.org site that was developed by KITLV and financed by the Dutch government following the devastating tsunami that destroyed many precious collections in Aceh. 

For contemporary audio-visual materials, KITLV has the site of Virtual Indonesia that gives access to the archive of the Recording the Future films. Recording the Future deserves a special attention being a unique approach to document daily life in Indonesia. This Dutch-Indonesian project that hopefully will run for many more years to come is represented here with two films and an interactive internet connection.

Mapping our history is a work in progress, always, and it is not only the work of academic institutions, but all companies, official bodies, artists and common people can help by preserving elements of the past. A special role is there for media, like television, newspapers and non-official archives. In the study of history not only official documents are important, but the value of documents, pictures, tapes, CD’s and all other media from non-official bodies and institutes are of utmost value for later. The recording and remembrance of history is potentially a democratic process, in the sense that everybody, official, non-official, rich, poor, main stream or side stream has its own history that creates together the history of a group or a country, and can show us the way mankind travels. through the ages.

Last Modified: 24-01-2013