Nusantara - Research Center for Material Culture
7 June 2018

The Deaccessioning of the Nusantara Collection

Seminar | 7 Jun 2018 | Museum Volkenkunde

In 2013, Museum Nusantara in Delft closed its doors and was therefore in search of a new destination for its collection: approximately 18,000 objects that many regard as the shared heritage of Indonesia and the Netherlands.

An Exceptional Process

​Museum Prinsenhof Delft in cooperation with the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen worked together with the Rijksdienst voor Cultureel Erfgoed (RCE) to ensure that the valuation of the collection and the guidelines for deaccessioning museum objects were applied in this process. The deaccessioning of such a large collection is unique within the cultural heritage field and can provide important learning opportunities for the sector. The process, which took several years, has now come to an end. Over the last few months, the parties involved commissioned an assessment of the process in order to learn from this unique opportunity and improve deaccessioning protocols.

At this moment of conclusion, the RCMC is pleased to host the seminar The Deaccessioning of the Nusantara Collection: An Exceptional Process. The event will present the findings of the assessment and discuss and reflect on various issues that concern the process of deaccessioning, including the collection’s dispersal across the public domain. What are the concerns and procedures when 18,000 objects must find a new home? How are object conservation concerns dealt with in this transfer? To what extent can we say the Guidelines for the Deaccessioning of Museum Objects is sufficient? What ethical or political questions arise when a colonial collection enters into a process of deaccessioning? What complex histories do these objects embody and how does this reflect onto the process of selecting the objects for other collections?


The seminar was in Dutch and the invited speakers included:

  • Marga Schoemaker (Museum Prinsenhof Delft)
  • Tessa Luger (Rijksdienst Cultureel Erfgoed RCE)
  • Pim Westerkamp (Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen)
  • Hedi Hinzler (independent researcher)
  • Renée Steenbergen (Vereniging van Vrienden van Aziatische Kunst VVAK)
  • Kurt De Belder (Leiden University)
  • Jos van Beurden (independent researcher of the deaccessioning)

The seminar will be moderated by Wim Manuhutu.

The seminar was livestreamed on the RCMC Facebook page. You can watch the video on YouTube.

Assessment of the process

As mentioned before, Museum Prinsenhof Delft and the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen commissioned an assessment of the process in order to learn from this unique opportunity and improve deaccessioning protocols. Jos van Beurden, an independent researcher, was commissioned to conduct this assessment to provide insight in the complex process of relocating a museum collection, and to share lessons for the future.

Reflecting on the relocation of this collection offers new insights for the museum sector, governments and other stakeholders, and raises new questions. It is good that everyone who is involved in the future in the process of deaccessioning can benefit from this report.

The report 'Herplaatsing Collectie Voormalig Museum Nusantara Delft 2013 - 2018 Lering en vragen' highlights this entire process. The report is in Dutch and available online.

Nusantara Collection

The Nusantara Collection is online accessible via the website: This website is host to the entire Nusantara Collection as it existed before the museum closed its doors. Beside the usual metadata that you may expect from a museum database, the records contain information about the valuation of the indivual objects or sets of objects, as considered for the deaccessioning of the collection. Furthermore, each object can be traced back to its new location.


Museum Prinsenhof Delft - Museum Nusantara Delft