5 December 2018

Suriname: Preserving sounding heritage for future generations

Local furniture makers working together on the restoration of the organ surroundings in the cathedral of Paramaribo. (Photo: The Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands)

In November, Suriname and the Netherlands strengthened their collaboration on the preservation of Suriname’s historical clocks and sounding heritage.

The main goal of this collaboration is to build local knowledge and know-how for the future preservation of ‘sounding heritage’ in Suriname. Paramaribo has a unique collection consisting of bells, tower clocks, historical pipe organs and carillons. On 20 November, sounding heritage specialist Rudi van Straten, from the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, travelled to Suriname to provide training and give a presentation, together with a Dutch volunteer specialised in clockworks. Suriname has different sorts of historical clockworks for which specific conservation knowledge is required. One of the partners in this capacity-building project is the Surinamese Water Company (Surinaamse Waterleiding Maatschappij), which also owns a precious mechanical tower clockwork. The company also provides spaces for conservation practices on these clockworks.

During Van Straten’s visit, students from the NATIN (Natuurtechnisch Instituut) presented the results of their research on the role and meaning of the clockworks owned by the water company. Furthermore, work on the second phase of the big restoration of the historical organ in Paramaribo’s cathedral commenced. In the first phase, local Surinamese furniture makers restored and reconstructed the organ’s surroundings. These craftspeople will be further trained in the art of organ restoration by Dutch organ makers. Meanwhile, the Association for Sounding Heritage in Suriname, which includes all owners of sounding heritage in Suriname, has also been established. This association will work with educators from the Netherlands for the training of professional and amateur organ players.

Here you can have a look into an earlier assessment of sounding heritage in Suriname (in Dutch).