File puptcrit/puptcrit.0801, message 158

Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2008 06:22:31 -0800
Subject: [Puptcrit] Puppet Museum in Jakarta

This was written as a letter to the Editor of the 
Jakarta Post (Indonesia).  I can't find the 
original article archive from jan 9th on line, 
but hought this would be of interest to Alan and other collectors.

Letter to the Editor -

I write once again to express my dismay at the 
way your paper continues to portray the state of 
Indonesian museums, in this case the article on 
the excellent puppet museum (Museum Wayang) in Kota, published on Jan. 9.

To single out this museum for its poor English 
labels is particularly disingenuous when one 
considers that the state with all of its 
resources could not even make a grammatical never 
mind engaging sentence to encourage tourism.

 From advertisements on billboards to even 
business English in Indonesia, the content and 
grammar is frequently either only marginally 
better or even worse than the examples given in this article.

It does a great injustice to this and other 
museums and how well they do with such scant 
financial resources. The article provides us with 
no insight into the nature of the collection, how 
it came to be and what can be learnt while in the 
museum, never mind how popular it is and what an 
excellent shadow puppet performance and gamelan 
orchestra can be seen there on alternative weekends.

Let me highlight just a few reasons why this is 
such a tremendous museum. First, the collection 
of puppets therein is of great historical 
interest because it has such a tremendous range 
of specimens and of such high quality. They are 
not only well made and displayed, if in a quaint, 
dated, shall we say timeless way, but the guides 
are extremely well informed. In fact, they have a 
passion for their culture in that this is 
essentially a family museum in which a great 
grandfather still makes extraordinarily fine 
shadow puppets that are used in the wayang performance.

This love for their heritage is nowhere more 
emotionally and artistically expressed than in 
the cozy weekend afternoon performances which 
exude Javanese authenticity at its best. Speaking 
of authenticity, one could not find a more 
authentic collection of specimens if one tried 
and the collection itself is of special merit 
because of its diversity which includes some most unusual specimens.

To add to that, if one is interested in batik, 
because each puppet is dressed in the appropriate 
clothes relating to its character, it presents an 
astounding contextualized textile collection.

Lastly, this is a museum which is saturated with 
history in the all-important Dutch tombstones 
from the courtyard which have been reset into the 
main wall. May I suggest that The Jakarta Post 
has more respect for the city's heritage and its museums.


Steve Axtell
Axtell Expressions, Inc.

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