If you want to get a glimpse of Florenese cultural and natural history, prehistory, as well as browse through unique and sometimes curious objects of art and daily life, Maumere’s Blikon Blewut Museum is the place visit.
Blikon Blewut Museum is situated on the campus of Sekolah Tinggi Filsafat Katholik Ledalero, which is a well-known Roman Catholic seminary. The museum’s origins are strongly linked to the activities of the international order of SVD (Societas Verbi Divini) missionaries in the early 20th century. As many SVD missionaries were experts in the fields of history, linguistics, and anthropology, they started to explore the hidden treasures of Flores’ cultural past.
As for Blikon Blewut, Theodor Verhoeven SVD from the Netherlands was the starting point. Arriving in Flores in 1949, the missionary and linguist with strong interests not only in contemporary culture but also in prehistoric issues, conducted numerous excavations as well as anthropological fieldwork on the island. His local expedition team, consisting of several seminary students, supported him with enthusiasm. A diligent collector, he stored the constantly accumulating fruits of his efforts in Seminary Todabelu in the Ngada district, where at that time the objects got relatively little attention.
By the mid 1970s, the objects were moved to Ledalero Seminary in Maumere, but it was not until 1983 that Blikon Blewut Museum gained significance: one of Verhoeven’s former expedition members, Piet Petu SVD, had in the meantime become a lecturer in cultural history at Ledalero Seminary. Thanks to his initiative, the objects gathered over the years by different SVD missionaries were presented and exhibited in a small building in the Ledalero Seminary in a structured way so that the collection could finally be called a museum. It was also Piet Petu SVD who suggested naming the museum Blikon Blewut. The name is derived from an ancient verse of the Sikka ritual language about the creation of the universe. As many of the museum’s exhibited objects reach back deep into history, the name fits the museum perfectly.
The exhibition, spread out over only 99m², hosts innumerable testimonies to Florenese history, not only originating from the island itself, but from all over the world: rare ikat, stone age tools, local pottery and carvings, musical instruments, ceramics originating from China, as well as traditional weapons and black-and-white photos taken by missionaries during the early decades of the 20th century.
Whilst exploring the exhibition, don’t miss the bronze kris, a special dagger found by Father Mommersteg SVD in 1952 in the Naru area, Ngada, where it was used for traditional ceremonies. Originating from the Vietnam-centered Dong Son culture that lasted from about 1,000 to 1 BC, this dagger is unique to Indonesia. To this day it is a mystery how it made its way to Naru.
Unfortunately the space of the museum is very limited; so only parts of the collection are exhibited, and many objects are still waiting for the museum to expand so they can be exhibited.
How to get there
The museum is located only about 8km from Maumere on the Ledalero Seminary Campus and is easily accessible by motorbike, car or minibus from Maumere. After passing Nita Village, the seminary is indicated with a signpost on the right. Pass a security guard before entering the parking lot in front of the big church. Opening hours are Monday to Saturday morning from 7am – 1pm.