Building a Bridge

Indonesia and the Netherlands have been building a bridge of understanding for some time especially for themes of shared history and shared heritage. The truth is that both sides have their own angles which are completely logical. As a cultural heritage professional, I would love to see both angles. That should be ideal. The reality is that ideal is difficult to achieve. So every time I have to face the reality, I accept that the ideal approach would never be achieved or presented. The highest expectation that I could have is that both sides exchange their angles. I can live with it.

Shared history and shared heritage are celebrated or contemplated differently in Indonesia and the Netherlands as long as I can observe as a practitioner in the field in both countries. I save more details about my opinion for other opportunities, but what I would like to say is that difference makes this job attractive for me. I have been doing this job for almost three decades and it is getting more and more attractive. There is never a boring moment. Second, it is fine to have a different angle about shared history as long as both sides have a good intention to cross-check the facts and being interested in listening to other parties. Differences are enrichments, not sources of prejudice and conflicts. 

Why did I write this post? Today I have attended one of the occasions that Indonesians and the Dutch exchanged both angles of the history initiated by Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Bonnie Triyana, a historian, and Amir Sidharta, an art curator, represented curators from Indonesia. Harm Stevens and Marion Anker, both are curators of Rijksmuseum represented the Netherlands. A significant number of museum experts, historians, educators, and stakeholders of the exhibition Revolusi! (will be open February 2022) were invited to join the conversation. 

It is a huge challenge to address a revolution as an exhibition, especially if it has an intention to cover both angles. Limited time, limited space, and limited resources. That was also my impression from the discussion today. I complimented all stakeholders who have been doing their best to build a bridge between the two countries. I only hope that the conversation is going to be beyond this exhibition because there are still many gaps, facts, and development to address. 

Bonnie Triyana

Amir Sidharta


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