The Collection of Ceramics in the National Museum of Indonesia and the role of Egbert Willem Van Orsey de Flines

7pm Monday, 16 April 2018

Imagination Room, Level 5
National Library Building
100 Victoria Street
Singapore 188064

SEACS members are invited to a talk on the Collection of the National Museum of Indonesia by Tara Manser. A good summary of her talk on this Collection is shared here.

The National Museum of Indonesia in Jakarta’s ceramic collection was formed primarily from the private collection of Egbert Willem Van Orsey de Flines (1886-1964). He was a Dutch national who arrived in Indonesia in 1913, and donated his collection of over 1000 pieces to the Museum in 1929 and continued to build on it as curator of ceramics until his permanent return to Holland in 1959. By the time he left Indonesia, the ceramic collection totalled around 5,000 pieces. Unfortunately, De Flines took a collection of the museum’s ceramics to Paris for an exhibition in 1931, during which the Netherlands Indies pavilion burned down. Lost in the fire were some important ancient Javanese statues as well as some of the colletion. Whilst Chinese ceramics form the main part of the collection today it was pioneering at that time in the collecting of Southeast Asian ceramics, particularly Thai and Vietnamese wares. Van Orsey de Flines collected ‘foreign’ ceramics from across the Indonesian Archipelago. Despite De Fline’s sad ending, impoverished in an old folk’s home in the Netherlands, he would be pleased to know that his Museum Pusat Djakarta: Guide to the Ceramic Collection is still read by students of Southeast Asian ceramics. Copies of the book can be found for sale online by a variety of used book sellers. An outdated (January 2017) but very good article about De Flines and the collection can be found here: Do note that the collection is no longer housed in the National Museum of Indonesia.

Ceramics had, for many centuries been the treasured possession of the local Indonesian people. They became precious heirlooms known as pusaka, looked after and kept from generation to generation, both as prestige items demonstrating family status, and as ceremonial objects used in traditional religious rites. As a repository of such heirloom pieces obtained from the local population, the collection is an important archive for the history of Indonesia.

About Tara Manser

Tara Manser is a member of the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society (SEACS). Prior to moving to Singapore, Tara lived in Jakarta for five years and was a member of the Indonesian Heritage Society (IHS) and a docent at the National Museum of Indonesia in Jakarta. She recently completed, with a colleague, an inventory of the ceramics collection (on display) in the National Museum of Indonesia. Tara has an MA in East Asian Art History from Manchester University and Sotheby’s Institute of Art.

This talk is free and open to the public, SEACS members and their guests. Please RSVP to The program will begin at 7pm and end at approximately 8.30pm. Parking is available in the National Library basement carpark and the closest MRT stop is Bras Basah.