Museum is a place displaying historical objects that have immense benefits for human’s life. If we visit a museum, we seem to be taken to an adventurous journey through space and time. We are brought by the history to watch the events that we do not know exactly where and we have never been through or even see such events. Therefore, a museum is not merely a place to learn (educative place), but also a place that gives us inspiration who have read and learned about information or objects displayed at the museum. For this reason, Museum BI paid a visit to Museum Ullen Sentalu on 31 July 2012 with the purposes not only to learn the collections displayed but also to learn about how such museum is managed professionally, including managing the collections, and information provided by the guides.
On this visit to Museum Ullen Sentalu, Museum BI officials have gained knowledge about how Museum Ullen Sentalu concerns about preserving and conserving national culture although such Museum is owned by a private institution, under the Foundation of Ulating Blencong. Nevertheless, the establishment of Museum Ullen Sentalu was supported by the senior citizens of Matarm Dynasty both from Yogyakarta Palace and Surakarta Palace (Yogyakarta Hadiningrat Palace, Surakarta Hadiningrat, Mangunegaran palace, and Puro Pakualaman). Museum Ullen Sentalu was officially inaugurated on 1 March 1997 by the Governor of the Special Region of Yogyakarta KGPAA Paku Alam VIII.
The idea of establishing Museum Ullen Sentalu basically came forth a calling to preserve the great Javanese culture, particularly the culture which was developing during the period of Islamic Mataram. Currently, dynasty of Mataram still exists in Yogyakarta and Surakarta.
According to archeological data, a number of artifact inherited from the era of Islamic Mataram was small compared to those from pre-history and classical eras. Meanwhile, the artifacts from pre-history and classical eras were richly varied in terms of motif and functions. Furthermore such artifacts have their original identity according to each periodization. For example : during the period of pre-history, many artifacts were found such as : stones, bones and metals representing the Paleotic and Perundagiancivilisations. In the period of Classic in which the Hindus influences had started to spread, since then the civilisation and culture develop rapidly. This is indicated by the objects found such as : places for worship andvarious artworks. Some masterpieces which were the proof of great civilisation in that period are Borobudur, Mendut and Prambanan Temples.
As the time passes, the civilisation changed significantly when the Islamic influence expanded. The acculturation process in the Islamic period changed the tradition of ritual ceremonies from the worship of gods to the understanding of Islamic principles. The form of art expression also changed. The depiction of living creatures were no longer practiced replaced by the stylisation art. Such cultural acculturation were becoming more varied when the European culture fostered during the period of colonial. The development process of multicultural civilisation taking place for decades had made the Archipelago Java as the areas having diversity of cultures.
The change in art and culture in the period of Islamic Mataram inherited cultural legacy in the form of non-artifact or intangible objects. However, the civilisation in this period also inherited outstanding cultural legacy in the design of town planning and several relics such as : the tombs, architecture of joglo housing, parks, or various types of trains with the variety of decorative stylisation arts.
Town planning from the era of Islamic Mataram “was designed in blue print consisting of main elements including : the palace as the centre of town and government surrounded by a fort. A mosque was built in the west of alun-alun (town square) as a place where the King meets his people located in the north and south of the palace. An area in which economic activities occur lies a market located in the north of the palace. Such concept of town currently can be seen in the Yogyakarta Palace or Surakarta Palace, as well as in some other formal Islamic palaces in Java.
Tracing the cultural legacy in term of tangible and intangible artifact from one era of Javanese culture to another eras had their distinctive identity of basic ethnic which tended to hold the value of harmonious philosophy with art as their characters. Thus, such basic ethnical identity still becomes the main element of the development of art and cultre as a result of the acculturation process of the various cultural influences from foreign culture. Particularly in the period of Islamic Matara, the culture developed towards the direction of the understanding of the philosophy of life in terms of intangible heritage such as artwork, literature, dance, music and tradition as well as the philosophy of life.
Addressing the magnitude of the culture in the period of Islamic period in the form of intangible heritage, it is will require a role of an institution to formulate a policy about preserving such cultural heritage from being faded and vanished. In this case Ulating Blencong Foundation through Museum Ullen Sentalu has developed the policy about managing museum collections for the purpose of creating, documenting and communicating the intangible cultural heritage through the media of artworks ( ICOM code ethics 2006). Therefore, besides artifacts some collections of Museum UllenSentalu were designed for the purpose of bringing the art and cultural heritage from the period of Islamic Mataram, both in the form of tangible and intangible. The creation of various artworks in Museum Ullen Sentalu has involved many parties. The role of the group of artist did not work on its own, but through the involvement of some parties, such as : the figures of Javanese culture, academia (archeologist, historian, and literary men), as well as direct involvement of the senior citizens from the dynasty of Mataram.