No such thing as bad publicity for beleaguered Indonesian museum

For all the bad press the Radya Pustaka Museum in Solo has been getting this past year, it goes to show that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. The new controversy is centred on the discovery of fake antique puppets, initially thought to be a hundred years old, but discovered to be made in the 1980s. There is an upside to the story though – for all the troubles the museum has been experiencing, it saw a spike in visitors in the past month. However, 700 visitors in the last month puts the average to about 22 visitors daily – which still makes it a pretty poor average in the first place.

Shadow Puppets Maker / Indonesia, Yogyakarta
photo credit: flydime

Fake Antique Puppets Found in Radya Pustaka Museum
Tempo Interaktif, 01 June 2009

Radya Pustaka Museum Crowded with Visitors
Tempo Interaktif, 08 June 2009

The Radya Pustaka Museum Committee in Surakarta has once again found new-old items among the ancient relic collection it owns. The new items include eight leather puppets made in the 1980s. The original leather puppet collection are mostly made in the 1890s, before the administration of Sultan Paku Buwana X. However, the committee has not concluded that they were forgeries of the museum’s antique collection. “We will recheck the inventory list,” said Radya Pustaka Museum Committee secretary, Djoko Darjata yesterday.

According to Djoko, the leather puppets in the museum are always displayed in a glass cabinet and are never taken out, except to be aired. “They should be taken out once a month to prevent humidity and mold,” Djoko said. When the items were taken out last Saturday, the committee discovered eight new leather puppets among the 200 in the museum’s antique collection.


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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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