Introducing the Collection

The best place to start

Look into the Archive

Music from 1929-33

Explore our Exhibitions

In depth curations

About This Site

The Jaap Kunst Collection, managed by the University of Amsterdam, is a sound archive that encompasses recordings, photographs, silent films, and correspondences collected by the Dutch ethnomusicologist Jaap Kunst (1891-1960). This collection allows us to imagine how the Indonesian Archipelago sounded to the Dutch ethnomusicologist during colonial times.

This website builds on the Decolonizing Southeast Asian Sound Archives (DeCoSEAS) project (2021-2024) which aims to “enrich” metadata by adding new corrective terms, making items more searchable with additional names and locations, and other factors. This process of potential decolonization will be slow, gradual, and will be executed with great care. 

The presentation of a collection is never neutral. It is inevitably based on selection procedures, structures and presentation conventions that co-determine what is known about the collection. Some of the JKC material is inherently colonial and contains words and terms that are inaccurate or harmful towards source communities and indigenous people. We recognise the potential for the material to cause distress as well as evoke strong emotions…

Mapping the Collection

Explore the music and films collected by Jaap Kunst    More Details »

Our Playlist

Here is an impression of what sounds you can encounter in the collection


This is a preliminary timeline revolving around Jaap Kunst. As we develop HIA, this timeline will expand to include more dates and travels of the wax cylinders (objects), informants and other actors – in an attempt to decentralise Jaap Kunst as a head figure.

Published Terschellinger volksleven (Folklife of Terschelling)
First Traveled to Indonesia as a Freelance Touring Musician
Appointed Government Musicologist in the service of the Ministry of Education and Religion. Founded the Musicologisch Archief (Musicological Archives).
Position as Government Musicologist ended due to funding. Completed research trips to Sumatra, Sulawesi, and other eastern islands.
Permanently returned to the Netherlands

Note: Photos at the top of the page are from Flores, Indonesia, taken by Jaap Kunst

Scroll to Top