Home Art collection Indonesia asks the Netherlands to return art and natural history collections

Indonesia asks the Netherlands to return art and natural history collections


The Indonesian government wants to recover eight works of art and natural science collections from the Netherlands. The country sent a list to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science in July, calling the looted art objects and demanding their return, Find reports.

The list includes the Java Man skull and the rest of the Dubois collection currently on display at the Naturalis Museum in Leiden. The collection consists of 40,000 fossils, including the skull, excavated in Indonesia by Dutch researcher Eugène Dubous at the end of the 19th century.

Indonesia also wants to recover the treasure of Lombok – a vast collection of jewelry, gems and gold and silver jewelery currently managed by the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden – and the reins of the horse of Diponegoro, the chief of Java’s revolt against Dutch colonial rule in the early 19th century.

The ministry confirmed to Trouw that Secretary of State Gunray Uslu received the request in July. She has not yet informed the relevant museums to avoid speculation, the ministry said. A previously announced independent panel will review applications like this.

A Naturalis spokesman confirmed to the newspaper that he was unaware of Indonesia’s official request but expected it to come. Naturalis will cooperate with any investigation.

The Natural History Museum added that it was surprised that Indonesia included the natural history objects in its request to the Netherlands to return the looted art. “The art treasures are, of course, handcrafted by local people,” a spokesperson said. “But we can say about the skull of Java: it would never have been found if the Dutchman Dubois had not set up a search.”