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Belau National Museum

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Belau National Museum
Belau National Museum
Former name
Palau Museum
LocationKoror, Palau
TypeNational museum
DirectorOlympia E. Morei-Remengesau

The Belau National Museum (BNM), previously Palau Museum, is a museum in Koror, Palau. It is the oldest continuously run museum in Micronesia.


The museum was established in 1955.[1] It is the oldest continually running museum in Micronesia; initially called Palau Museu, it later changed its name.[2] The original founders included Palauans Indalecio Rudimch, Francisco Morei, Alphonso Oiterong and anthropologist Francis M Mahoney.[2] Originally located in the former Japanese Administration Weather Bureau, the museum was later relocated to a new building, which was funded by the Government of the Republic of China.[3] From 1955 until its location move in 1970, the museum was run by a Museum Committee.[1] In 1970 the museum was relocated to a two-storey building in Palau Botanical Garden.[1]

In 1973 the museum's administrative structure changed to a non-profit organisation governed by a board of trustees.[1]


The museum has two exhibition spaces, an air-conditioned photographic archive, offices and shop.[1] As of 2006, the first floor exhibition space displayed Palau's traditional culture and arts, including bead money (udoud) and the house-buying ceremony known as ocheraol.[4]

In the wider museum compound is a library of over 5000 books relating to the history and culture of Palau.[5] There is also a statute of Harruo Remeliik, the first president of Palau.[4]


The museum exhibits artefacts from all aspects of the local life of Palauan people, such as artworks, photography, sculptures etc.[6] However, according to Philip Dark, due to a lack of security in the museum, by 1988 several important objects had been stolen.[1]

In 1988 the collection consisted of over 1,000 objects relating to the historical, anthropological and biological histories of the country.[1] There are several hundred images in the photographic collection, many of which are from periods of Japanese and German colonial occupation.[5] This archive was an important aspect of a research project undertaken in the mid-2000s to document life under Japanese colonial rule.[7] In 2003 the media collection underwent a digitisation programme, funded by a U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) National Leadership Grant.[8]

The museum has also been active in recording Palau's intangible cultural heritage, including taro production.[9] As part of the museum's acquisition process, makers of works that are being accessioned into the collection are interviewed and the process of making is recorded.[10]

In 2017 the museum's natural science department led a survey of bird life at the world heritage site of the Rock Islands' southern lagoon.[11] The same year the museum signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Museum (Prague) to deepen scientific relations between the countries.[12]


In 1969 a traditional village meeting house known as a bai, was constructed in order to showcase and preserve traditional building styles and skills. However it burnt down on 13 October 1979.[1] In the early 1990s the bai was rebuilt using traditional methods and is a key feature of the museum today.[4]


  • Reconstructed bai (2007)
    Reconstructed bai (2007)
  • Details on the bai
    Details on the bai
  • Interior of the bai
    Interior of the bai
  • The first bai, c.1970s
    The first bai, c.1970s

Overseas collections

Due to legacies of colonialism, important aspects of Palauan heritage are held in collections overseas. These include; recordings of traditional music held at the Berliner Phonogramm-Archiv,[13] chiefly costume held at Glasgow Museums,[14] pandanus fibre mats from Sonsorol at National Museums Scotland.[15] They also include Palauan material from the eighteenth century held in the British Museum: an inlaid, bird-shaped wooden bowl, an oil painting and an inlaid canoe, amongst others.[16][17]

In 2005 digital assets of field recordings made in Palau in the 1960s were repatriated to the museum.[18]

Gallery of Palauan cultural heritage held overseas

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Dark, Philip J.C. (1988). "Museums in Micronesia". Pacific Arts Newsletter (26): 12–20. ISSN 0111-5774. JSTOR 23408934.
  2. ^ a b Kiste, Robert C.; Marshall, Mac (1999-01-01). American Anthropology in Micronesia: An Assessment. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-2017-6.
  3. ^ Iitaka, Shingo (2019). "Positionality of East Asian Anthropologists in Pacific Studies". Japanese Review of Cultural Anthropology. 20 (2): 227–235. doi:10.14890/jrca.20.2_227.
  4. ^ a b c Hollywood, Mike (2006). Papa Mike's Palau Islands Handbook. iUniverse. ISBN 978-0-595-37607-0.
  5. ^ a b Hezel, Francis X. (2015-04-03). "From the Archives". The Journal of Pacific History. 50 (2): 213–223. doi:10.1080/00223344.2015.1046212. ISSN 0022-3344. S2CID 164292923.
  6. ^ "Belau National Museum & Bai". Lonely Planet. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  7. ^ Mita, Maki. "SER no. 087; Introduction." Senri Ethnological Reports 87 (2009): 1-20.
  8. ^ Mad, Imengel (2003-05-27). "Palau Community College-Belau National Museum image archives digitization and access project". Proceedings of the 3rd ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Conference on Digital Libraries. JCDL '03. USA: IEEE Computer Society: 406. ISBN 978-0-7695-1939-5.
  9. ^ Ngiralmau, Meresbang (1993). "Taro Research in Palau Since 1990". Proceedings of the Sustainable Taro Culture for the Pacific Conference. hdl:10125/4274. ISSN 0271-9916.
  10. ^ Putt, Neal (2001-06-01). "Heritage conservation in the Pacific Islands". Studies in Conservation. 46 (sup1): 61–72. doi:10.1179/sic.2001.46.Supplement-1.61. ISSN 0039-3630. S2CID 218661728.
  11. ^ OLSEN, ALAN R., and MILANG EBERDONG. "Survey of the Non-Migratory Birds of the Rock Islands Southern Lagoon World Heritage Site in Palau." Micronesica 3 (2017): 1-6.
  12. ^ Muzeum, Národní. "National Museum and Belau National Museum signed the memorandum of understanding". National museum. Retrieved 2021-10-02.
  13. ^ "Chelitakl: Ongeatel Tekoi er a Belau er a Angaramong / Frühe Tonbandaufnahmen aus Palau / Early Reel-to-Reel Recordings from Palau/Sound Memories of Past Palau: Music in Belau 1965-1966/15 Favorite Japanese-Influenced Palauan Songs / Derrebechesiil - ProQuest". Retrieved 2021-10-02.
  14. ^ Haddow, Eve (2014). Glasgow Museum: Caroline Islands Collection (PDF). National Museums Scotland.
  15. ^ Haddow, Eve (2014). National Museum Scotland: Caroline Islands Collection (PDF). National Museum Scotland.
  16. ^ Nero, Karen L. (2011-09-30). "A Tale of Three Time Travelers: Maintaining Relationships, Exploring Visual Technologies". Changing Contexts, Shifting Meanings. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 296–312. doi:10.1515/9780824860141-021. ISBN 978-0-8248-6014-1.
  17. ^ "Collections Online | British Museum". Retrieved 2021-10-02.
  18. ^ Salvatore, Cecilia Lizama (2018-01-17). Cultural Heritage Care and Management: Theory and Practice. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1-4422-7218-7.
  19. ^ "Faustina Rehuher-Marugg Appointed as Minister of Community and Cultural Affairs by ROP President". Belau National Museum - Ngesechel a Cherechar. 2009. Retrieved 2021-10-01.
  20. ^ "Staff - Belau National Museum". Retrieved 2021-10-01.
  21. ^ "MPTF Informal Economies Recovery Project - Partner Spotlight". 2021-06-06. Retrieved 2021-10-01.
  22. ^ Fadiman, Maria G.; Thomas, Michael B.; Morei, Olympia E.; Kitalong, Ann H.; Hanser, Sholeh (2018-10-04). "Globalization and Tradition in Palau: Case Study of the Syncretic Omengat (First Child Birth) and Ngasech Ceremonies". The Florida Geographer. 50. ISSN 0739-0041.
  23. ^ "MOA Signed Between Belau National Museum and Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment, and Tourism | SPC-R2R". Retrieved 2021-10-01.

Coordinates: 7°20′11″N 134°28′34″E / 7.33639°N 134.47611°E / 7.33639; 134.47611

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Belau National Museum
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