A larger story to the previous news piece about the attempted closure of the Nakhon Pathom museum is the plan by the Thai Fine Arts Department to consolidate a number of smaller museums. While efficient, this move is not necessarily widely accepted by the locals whose museums and heritage will be affected.
The Fine Arts Department’s planned consolidation of small national museums drew strong protest Monday from residents of Nakhon Pathom and Chai Nat provinces, who oppose moving local exhibits to large regional institutions.
embers of local governing bodies, governors and residents from the provinces in the Northeast and Central regions argued that the museums and their artwork represented local historical roots and identity and had invaluable spiritual value for them. Therefore, they reasoned, the artefacts should be kept in their hometowns.
Opponents have launched online protest campaigns and pledged to mobilise locals to demonstrate against the museum closures. Protesters in both Nakhon Pathom and Chai Nat said they were ready to take over the operation and expense of the museums if the department transferred ownership to the provinces.
The Fine Arts Department last week floated the idea of closing Phra Pathom Chedi National Museum in Nakhon Pathom and displaying its pieces from the Dvaravati period (9th-12th century) at U Thong National Museum in Suphan Buri.
The department already had named nine national museums it wanted to consolidate in Bangkok and other provinces, including Chainatmuni National Museum in Chai Nat.
Experts (although the article is quite vague who exactly these experts are) in Ho Chi Minh City are calling for better ways to streamline the process in which museums procure artifacts for their collections.
Any regular reader of this site would realise that the Vietnamese media reports a great deal of the archaeological goings-on in the country. But where do all the artefacts from these various excavations go to? It seems that many museums in Vietnam are suffering from an acute shortage in storage space, to the point that many collections are stored in warehouses. Some artefacts haven’t seen the light of day for over 40 years!
Museums in Bangkok worry that the prolonged unrest underway is having a negative impact to visitorships. That said, there still seems to be an upward trend towards museum visitorship over the past few years.
Most of you would be familiar with the protests going on in Bangkok, which have recently claimed lives due to clashes between the protesters and the authorities. The Fine Arts Department also report that museum visitorships have suffered greatly because of the protests, as the majority of the museums in Bangkok are located near the protest areas, and in some cases protesters have mistakenly stormed the museums!
While it’s probably true that all museums could use a little extra money to run, it’s probably not as dire as the museum scene in Indonesia, where the museums in Jakarta are facing serious problems in their administration, from poor displays to the inability to hold public programmes and even basic security.
The Jakarta Post had a double feature on the publicly funded Conservation Institute, responsible for the conservation of Jakarta’s museum. Like most conservation agencies, they suffer from a lack of funding and manpower, as well as a lack of confidence from private collectors.
Museum conservation specialists step up
Jakarta Post, 11 September 2008