This post is the English version of my old post. You can view the old post in Bahasa Indonesia here
Have you ever cried in a museum? I haven’t, but I was this close to crying in a museum. This is a memory of my visit to Bronbeek Museum, one of the most memorable museums I have ever visited here.
Bronbeek Museum is a military museum that housed memorabilia of Dutch military activities in Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). Their collections specialise on KNIL, the Koninklijk Nederlands-Indie Leger, or Kingdom of Dutch East Indies Army.
Bronbeek Museum is located in Arnhem, a town on the eastern side of the Netherlands, easily accessible from Utrecht. As a museum, Bronbeek is situated in a special place, in the middle of a lush garden in the summer. You can find an Indonesian-themed restaurant at the back of the museum called Kumpulan, where Dutch veterans often spend time with their ex-colleagues and their family.
Bronbeek Museum was divided into two floors. Each
The permanent exhibition about Dutch occupation which was presented chronologically on the second floor, from VOC until the Dutch repatriation back to the Netherlands and/or other countries.
There were two parts of their story in the museum that broke my heart into pieces: their story during the Japanese occupation and their repatriation to the Netherlands. The museum showed that the Dutch people had to go to Japanese internment camps all over the Dutch East Indies. They separated the camp between the local Indonesians but their tasks were the same, doing odd and hard jobs here and there for the prosperity of the Japanese army.
When the Japanese lost the war and Indonesia declared its’ independence, the Dutch had to choose: either stayed in Indonesia or went to the Netherlands. Most of them decided to leave Indonesia even though they had never seen the Netherlands before. This was caused mostly by the tumultuous anti-imperialist politics and racial tension that happened in the country. After their arrival to the Netherlands, they had to adapt with the harsh cold winter and how they were perceived as “not Dutch enough” by the society. Just imagine this picture: a white man sporting blonde hair but prefers fried rice to a sandwich for breakfast,
Visiting this museum gave me a new perspective