A number of staffs wearing white laboratory robed and green mask were caring for a collection of miniature traditional houses of Dayak Borneo, patiently. The collections are very dry and brittle. They lifted the dust by brushing the roof carefully, and then wipe it with a white cloth. Some of them tighten or repair the wooden wall of Batak Toba traditional house. The museum’s doctors work in the aisle between huge displays of miniature Nusantara’s traditional houses, our archipelago.
“We always monitoring the environmental conditions of the collection periodically,” said Ita Yulita a conservation staff of the National Museum of Jakarta, “However, we also take immediate action and emergency, such as custom improvements like this case because the conditions are very bad.”
The National Museum has collection of 125 miniature traditional houses made of wood, bamboo, rattan, fibers, and reeds. These miniatures were made with care and similar to the original, complete with fences, stairs, window shapes, and custom decorations. It seems to have inhabited since the beginning of the 20th century so that this heritage should be treated the cause of damage such as dust, temperature, humidity, insects, and termites.
There should be a special education background to the team preservation in Indonesia. However, according to Yulita, the conservation study is only in the courses of the department of archeology, or specialization in the study program. So far, the team gained experience with the following education and training for conservation both within the country and abroad. “Actually, if people knew, working in this museum is interesting. People seem to we only to clean up the collection, but there is actually a science to it,” said Yulita convincing.
The National Museum cooperates with institutions abroad such as the conservation of inter-governmental organizations with recognized expertise in training, capacity building, and networking. For example, COLLASIA (Conserving Heritage Collections in Southeast Asia), ICCROM (International Centre for Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) , and SEAMEO-SPAFA (Regional Centre for Archeology). “I am currently studying the microclimate for the showcases,” said Yulita COLLASIA matter of training applications “about the humidity and temperature settings, and the treatment.”
The most threatened collection subject to temperature and humidity are wood, paper and textiles. Then, Yulita learns how to make a careful comparison between the area of shelf space and the use of silica gel. “If it was too much, it will make a dry shelf space so collection being crushed or broken. Conversely, when it was too little, it will lead to a damp condition of shelf space.”
“We always keep conserving for each object uniquely,” she said, “Subject to limited tools and materials, it also enables us to lead a new approach in conservation.” Like a doctor, conservationist does not have a recipe that works for all diseases. The passion, according to Yulita, is to preserve, while their action depends on the case of damage, type of object, and material.
There is one of the most memorable experience for Yulita as conservationist. It happened when she conducted the conservation of Gaja Dumpak, a sword of Sisingamangaraja XII. It has been the museum’s collection since 1907. The atmosphere as usual until a few people who claim descent from that King Tapanuli arrived in the conservation room and desire to watch the sword of their ancestors. “They cried when see this sword, tremble and humming the Batak songs,” recalls Yulita, “We’re thrilled and proud; finally we also help them as gathering their missing family.”