Sunday, September 16, 2007

Palau: Through the Years

If you think museums are just gloomy buildings containing specimens from another lifetime waiting for tourists and visitors to come and take a look at the displays, think again. There’s more to museums than meets the eye and it goes true with the BNM.

Preserve. Conserve. Promote. These are the three keywords that make Belau National Museum (BNM) tick. In between the three, there is the maintenance work needed to see to it that the work of arts, culture and creative works will be preserved.

“Museums contribute hugely to the mental development of the country, it is the window or the mural of a country,” BNM director Tina Rehuher-Marugg told Island Times.
The BNM, she said, is made up of dedicated people who specialize in various fields who collect specimens.

Marugg said that the BNM function is “to enhance the well being of the community and to preserve and maintain Palau’s heritage.”
“When you go to any country, visiting a museum is the best way to learn about the people in that country, it’s where I learn,” Marugg said.

“We have come a long way compared to the early 1970’s, but we still have a long way to go,” Marugg, who worked as the BNM director on and off since the early 1970’s said. She added that she hopes for expansions in the museum to store and display the exhibits. She said that in the early 70’s the museum collections are housed in a small building but after the construction of the new museum building, things have changed for the better.

There are nine sections in the BNM and these are manned by their respective managers. These sections are the Administration, Ethnographic Objects/Art Collections, Media Collections, Research Library, Art Program, Ulekdubs Shop, Maintenance & Facility, Natural History and Museum Pedagogy.

The BNM provides a range of products and services, which include permanent, temporary, and traveling exhibits, an amphitheater, and a variety of community outreach programs. A traditional meeting hall, botanical garden, and war relics are additional exhibits that visiting guests of the BNM will experience.

BNM is celebrating its golden anniversary this year under the theme “A Cherechar a Lokelii” (Palau through the years). Part of its activities is the showcasing of a three-part display from pre-contact Palau to contact periods of Spain, Germany, Japan and the United States to Palau today.

BNM’s concept for its 50th anniversary is to educate the public about the role the Museum plays in the community. It also aims to acknowledge Palau’s historical ties with its former administering countries, establish new relationships and re-establish old ones.
Among the remarkable contributions displayed at the BNM are the paintings by Charlie Gibbons in 1975, Hisakatsu Hijikata, Elizabeth Kramler, the Taiwanese aborigines, and others who played a vital role in Palau’s history.

The new museum building was formally opened on September 30, 2005 and has been catering to locals and international tourists since then. For more information, contact or

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