via the Art Newspaper, 22 September 2021: Obituary of Soedarmadji Jean Henry Damais, Indonesian historian and curator who passed away earlier this month.
Soedarmadji Jean Henry Damais, 78, died on 15 September, in Jakarta, Indonesia.
A curator, historian, author and collector, he was one of the country’s most influential advocates for the preservation, study and propagation of traditional arts, crafts and designs from the Indonesian archipelago.
Damais served as the last director of the Jakarta History Museum (1989-99), and championed the revitalisation of the area around the old colonial port in downtown Jakarta. He created a valuable cultural legacy for the Southeast Asian nation, which won independence from the Netherlands in 1949 after a bitter and bloody struggle.
“He was an important figure for Indonesia, someone who opened ten museums in just three years, between 1974 to 1977,” says the contemporary artist Syagini Ratna Wulan, who represented Indonesia at the 2019 Venice Biennale. “The institutions were created within old buildings as he believed in preserving heritage architecture, something which is currently lacking.”