My main research project was an early unpublished collection of textiles in the National Museum of Ethnology. A secondary project was to investigate the KITLV's photographic collections from Flores and the Solor Islands (Eastern Indonesia). I used the week in July to identify the material to be researched. I discovered that the National Museum actually held two collections from the early 19th century, gathered by the naturalists Salomon Müller and Heinrich Christian Macklot. Both had participated in the 1829 Natuurkundige Commissie expedition to Eastern Indonesia and New Guinea.
The early date of the collections makes them exceptionally valuable for the history of material culture in the region. My research apparently was the first detailed study of the textiles. Access to the Museum's database provided information regarding measurements, materials, and provenance, as far as known. I was also able to supplement some of the database information from my own field research on the islands.
The research will result in a publication that compares the historical material with more recent developments in the region, with focus on East Flores and the Solor Islands. The textiles collected in 1829 are distinctly different from the weaving done during much of the 20th century. There is, however, a revival in some locations where weavers are beginning to produce cloths that are surprisingly similar to the textiles in the Müller-Macklot collections. How this revival and, possibly, retrieval has come about remains open to speculation, but I have relevant ethnographic information that allows for further interpretation.
Regarding the photographic collections in the KITLV, I discovered in July that there was very little material available from the region. This particular part of my proposed research had to be abandoned. It took a different form, though, when I subsequently arranged for a collection of 171 black and white photographs, taken by the German ethnologist Ernst Vatter and his wife in 1928/29 during an expedition to Flores and the Solor-Alor archipelago, to be deposited in the Special Collections archive of the KITLV. On my return in March I made a full study of them, which will result in a KITLV publication of the material.