The Repository of Indonesian Arts (RIA)

The Repository of the Indonesian Arts (RIA) is a physical and digital collection of recordings, art objects, photographs and writings on the music, dance, theatre and other performing arts of various islands and provinces of Indonesia, including the traditional, ethnographic, endangered, new, and revitalised arts. The Repository is housed within the Music Archive of Monash University (MAMU).

The Repository has focused to date on collecting and recording the traditional vocal and instrumental music, dances, theatre, bardic arts, and martial arts of Indonesia, together with their associated properties, including musical instruments, theatre puppets, paintings, carvings, dance costumes, and textiles worn at domestic and religious rituals. Its audio- and audio-visual recordings also include new music, dance and theatre items that are performed on government and commercial occasions, on the media, and in the streets and fair grounds. Visit the Gallery [insert link] to see photographs of select items in the Repository and learn about their historical, religious, mythical, and social contexts.

The History of RIA

A large proportion of the Repository’s holdings were acquired by staff and students of the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music at Monash University, in the course of ethnomusicological fieldwork in Indonesia from 1974 to the present day.  From 1995 to the present, a part-time archivist and ethnomusicologist – Ms Bronia Kornhauser MA – has been employed to manage the growing size and diversity of materials housed in the Repository.

The principal contributors to the Repository to date include: Margaret and Dris Kartomi (from 1974 to the present), Karen Kartomi Thomas (in 1985 and from 2011), Ashley Turner (in the mid-1980s), David Goldsworthy (from 1978), Lynette Moore (Pak-Pak music in the 1980s), Mauly Purba (Simelungun Batak music in the 1990s), and Iwan Amir (Acehnese music in the early 2000s). Among the bequests are the Jeune Scott-Kemball Collection of Javanese Musical Theatre Arts (including a rare 1918 shadow puppet), and the John Noble Collection of Indonesian Textiles. Donations include the Sumatra Music Archive (from the Kartomis and others) and the David Hanan Collection of Historical Indonesian Films.

From early 2014, RIA combined forces with the Museum of Indonesian Arts Inc. (MIA) to co-present select Indonesian art objects as part of MAMU and in public exhibitions. With fine examples of textiles from most parts of the Archipelago, particularly Eastern Indonesia; Javanese leather shadow puppets and Javanese dance masks as well as paintings on all sorts of materials from various parts of Indonesia but mainly from Java and Bali; kendi (drinking water containers) from many parts of Indonesia, treasures from Lombok and Sumatra, and access to the collections of our friends, the Museum of Indonesian Arts Inc has a collection of visual arts to match the holdings of MAMU, so that together MIA and MAMU collections may be deemed to have collections of National Significance.  For more information about MIA, visit the organisation’s website here.

Visit the RIA Gallery

To view some examples of the strength and vitality of the genres represented by the Repository, visit the RIA gallery here.