The Indonesian Heritage Society (“IHS”) is a non-profit organisation established in 1970, by Indonesian and ex-pat volunteers, providing support and assistance to Indonesia’s cultural institutions.
The 60s was a challenging period for the history of Indonesia. The instability of the era narrowed the government’s focus on pure survival and financial development. Thus, there was very little thought nor effort paid to preserve Indonesia’s rich heritage or culture.
One Indonesian couple, Mr and Mrs Zainal Abidin started the ‘Ganesha Society’, focused on preserving the valuable material heritage of Indonesia’s rich cultures and were privately assisting The National Museum — then called Museum Pusat (Central Museum). In 1967, they met with a group of like-minded cultural enthusiasts and later in 1970 together created the ‘Ganesha Volunteers’. These volunteers, a mixture of Indonesians and expatriates, assisted in document translations, archiving and inventory. Through their intimate involvement within the museum, they knew it well, and thus their role expanded into holding tours and lectures.
For years the Ganesha Volunteers continued their work, and in 1994 they became a legal non-profit organisation known as the Indonesian Heritage Society (IHS). For over half a century, this group has been spreading the love for and knowledge of the country’s history and cultural riches with curious individuals through community programmes and events. This is thanks to early developers of the group — Bapak Anak Agung Gde Agung, Bapak Wiwoho Basuki, Ibu Kartini Basuki, Dr. Nafsiah Mboi, Ibu Hilde Ardie and Ibu Juliana Roe — patrons of IHS, who have been essential to the success and longevity of the organisation and its cooperative relationship with museums and institutions in Jakarta.
This cooperative spirit, what Indonesians call ‘gotong royong’, continues to be at the centre of the Indonesian Heritage Society. Thousands of volunteers from across the country and around the world have been members, contributing their time, knowledge and talents to further grow the organisation.
IHS offers programs to promote the preservation of Indonesian art and cultural heritage. For the curious and the eager, they can join an Explorers Program to experience Jakarta and go on to travel to destinations throughout Indonesia. Educational programs like touring the Museum National, to IHS Evening Lecture at Erasmus Huis, focusing on various subjects related to Indonesian history, culture, environment and art are available. There’s also projects to support Museums through curating exhibitions and collection management and inventories. Fun activities such as the Black Coffee White Elephant fundraiser, Blue Lotus Day: a yearly celebratory event and the annual Welcoming Event to welcome old and new members in September.
For those looking to deepen their relationship with Jakarta and Indonesia, to discover its roots and be part of a community of others in that same pursuit, Indonesian Heritage Society is a great place to start.