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Stay on the lookout for the latest news from the Belau National Museum! We will be posting to both our website as well as our facebook page! So in case you might have missed something on our website, we're always a click away!

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March 4, 2021

Palau Cultural and Creative Industry

If you are interested, come to Belau National Museum during working hours to register!

March 4, 2021

Vacancy Announcement - Media Technician

Looking for a position involving local media, modern technology, and our cherished culture? this position may be for you!

January 8, 2021

2021 Calendar Coming Soon!

Happy New Year! These new poster calendars will soon be available to purchase at the Belau National Museum! Learn about some of Palau's Shore Birds, and also stay updated on some of the environmental holidays!

September 18, 2020

Storyboards – Llochukl

(TOP Storyboard) old painted style (BOTTOM Storyboard) New style carving Originally, stories and legends were painted on the interior beams and on both sides of the outer walls of the village Bai (men’s meeting house). A Japanese Ethnographer / Artist, Dr. Hisakatsu Hijikata developed a system of carving those stories on smaller wood planks and taught it to Palauan carvers to use as a commercial enterprise. Palauan storyboards are world famous as this is Palau’s most unique handicraft. The storyboards tell amusing or tragic stories of romance and daring deeds, usually with some type of moral teaching or inspiration. Also stories depleted on the Bai’s were specific got the village the Bai was in; for example if you go to the Bai on Koror the stories are different and unique then the ones at Aimeliik, you would never have the same stories on different Bai’s. The storyboards are priced accordingly to depth of the carving, detail, quality of finishing, and reputation of the carver. Some carvers will carve out personal stories of individuals if a specific order is made, however it is the 30 most popular legends out of over 200 that are known that usually are carved. To name a few: Ngemelis – Discovery of the Turtle Egg Laying Cycle, Ngibtal – The Magic Breadfruit Tree, Palauan Money – Ngerot Island, Ngerielb – The Girl Who Turned Into a Dugong, Ngerchokl – The Gift of Everlasting Life, and many many more. The Belau National Museum, Tebang Woodcarving Shop, and Prisoners Gift Shop are some of the best shops to visit and see what they have.

Painted Storyboard on side of Bai (Men's meeting house) (Top photo Bai) different style painted storyboard (Bottom photo) interior beams of Bai with storyboard painting

September 3, 2020

Clay Oil Lamps - Olbidel

Clay oil lamps were used in Palau for many years before the arrival of Cpt. Wilson, but were not shaped in the fashion that are displayed in the Belau National Museum. The original lamps were made from small clay bowls filled with dbidel (resin) of the beror (Melicope palawensis) in the Rue Family of trees, with a rolled leaf at the end kind of like a candle. Not until the Spaniard came did Palauan's learn about the use of a wick, which the Spanish brought from the Philippines. To be able to use a wick, the containers (oil lamps were created with a pipe). This type of lamp was originally mentioned by John Stanislaw Kubary (a Polish Naturalist / Ethnographer) in 1889. Palau is the only Micronesian Island group to use lamps. The style is nearly identical to Roman lamps which is a very strange occurrence since Palauans never traveled to Italy as far as we know. During the war years 1943 to 1944 lamps were used in caves, where many Palauans took refuge, they made the cave their homes. One particular clay oil lamp was found partially buried on a beach in Ngeremdiu (Rock Islands), by Mr. & Mrs. Sanders; Teachers in Palau and gifted the original lamp to BNM in 1968. A magnificent lamp was made in Ngatpang in 1907, which reached a considerable size, are of special significance. This large clay oil lamp had a women holding a baby on the pipe end of the lamp. A replica of this large lamp was made by Sandy Vitarelli and given to BNM in 1968. The artistic products are primitive in nature, but overall effect is nevertheless impressive due to their unusual power of expression by the Palauan People.Article by: Joe Ngirmeriil

August 26, 2020

Carved Canoe House Post – Tengal a Diangel

If you come to the Belau National Museum you will notice two carved statues (a femle figurer on the left and a male figure on the right) on both sides of the main exhibition area. The carved male figure on the right is 145 year old original canoe house post recovered from the last canoe-house in Koror located at Sechamus (below Lebuu Street). It was gifted from the Koror Municipality in 1967 to BNM. Made from dort (Intsia bijuga) is one of the strongest wood species in Palau; it is a very heavy and strong hardwood that is good lumber for building and isn’t susceptible to bug infestations such as termites or other wood eating insects. This tree (dort) has become rarely used now because of over harvesting and having to wait until the tree is very large to cut it down and has been put on the protective species list to help bring it back to its original state of abundance. Palauan’s believe that spirits or gods usually reside in large trees. In the past, they would ask the spirits to be able to use the tree for their homes and explain to the spirits of the tree how their well-being is in jeopardy and so they need the tree to build their homes and support their families. Therefore, would ask the spirits to relocate to another tree and in return they will give them artificial money using various plants such as raw taro (brak) to create the money, mushrooms (cherou) painted to look like Palauan bead money. Dort wasn’t only used to build homes and other structures. The wood could also be used in several different ways, such as; spear guns (boes ra ngikel), a wooden stick used to beat taro in order to soften it (beob), pestle (chai) and mortar (ngot), cutting boards, and the frames for dive goggles.

August 20, 2020

Tools Of The Trade – Chebakl (The Adze)

The most important tool for men for hewing wood was the “chebakl” (adze). It was so useful for all kinds of work, cutting off branches, splitting string, carving out rafts ect.., Palauan men used to carry them on there shoulders or in a basket all the time. It was equivalent to our pocketknife's today. Since the earliest time the word “chebakl” has been used for the word “iron”, as can be seen in the records of Koypattle (the ships name) by Captain McCluer in 1793. The first explores realized that Palauan's’ already knew about iron; Captain Wilson already found it in use on Palau during the rebuilding of the rescue boat on Ulong Island. Iron was probably introduced by shipwrecked Malaysians or Chinese traders; so the name must also be old and was applied to the adze (chebakl). The shape of the handle (for which the best wood is considered to be gerumes) deserves special mention, since it is distinguished from all similar hatchets by its strong curvature. It is shaped like a bow; this gives it a very unique shape. Speaking of different shapes, there were also different types, take the “otileg” the axe. Made from giant clam shells, these were tide with “sennit” (a type of cordage made by plaiting strands of dried fiber or grass also important material in the cultures of Oceania) in a not so permanent way due to the possible damaged shells and changing the size of the shell when needed. When iron was introduced they would use a permanent type tie because they would change the tool for the job that was at hand.

NOTE: Every Thursday 4pm to 5pm, Francis Toribiong will be at the BNM conference room to talk about the opportunities that he took in his life and how he became the iconic man he is today. It is very informal and questions are welcomed. Space is limited so please reserve a space. Contact us at 488-2841 to reserve a seat.

August 12, 2020

Turtle Shell (Derual) & Dugong Vertebra(Olocholl) Bracelets

Our first showcase is another impressive piece that was gifted in 1994 by Dr. Force, former Ongetiu (9th Chief) of Mengellang, Ngarchelong. The bracelet (Klilt) is made-up of 57 individual pieces of turtle shell discs, strung together with metal wire, before the introduction of metal the bracelet was strung together with coconut husk string. The piece was given to Dr. Force by Ebilraimei Dilubech (2nd Mechas) from Mengellang, Ngarchelong in 1956. The women’s bracelet had similar importance to the men’s bracelet. Only high ranking women wore such ornaments. There are most likely very few bracelets left, as the pieces have been sought out for the value of the turtle shell. The other one was purchased in 1907 (during the German occupation) for 30 marks, from a man of the Klang clan in Imeungs “Ngeremlengui”. The piece displayed at the Belau National Museum (BNM) is one of two turtle shell bracelets known in existence on Palau.

The second pieces are very rare nowadays because of the dugongs being on the endangered specious list and the lose of habitats due to human expansion; so they are illegal to hunt. A little history before we talk about the peace's: Captain Henry Wilson of the "Antelope" (East India Company ship) was given a dugong bracelet (Olocholl) by '"King" Abba Thule' in 1783 and is now on displayed at The British Museum in London, England. It is thought that only the elders were able to wear such bracelets, In reality any Palauan that was able to purchase or acquire a dugong vertebrae bracelet would wear it and pass it down to future generations.

August 06, 2020

Lime Dispenser (Tenget el Chaus)

Back in 1972 a couple by the names of Dr. Roland W. & Mrs. Maryanne T. Force who lived in Belau for several years went to an auction at the Berkeley Galleries-Oley Dealers, in England. They were intrigued by this particular item they saw in the collection, a “Tenget el chaus” or lime dispenser from Belau. Made of Bamboo with woven sedge plant around both open ends, decorated with 13 pieces of hawksbill turtle shell discs strung thru a carved wood piece in the center used as a stopper at the open end(top). The Tenget el chaus (lime dispenser) was used by high-ranking male individuals in the clan. This piece dates back 226 years, during the Wilson – year 1783 & McCluer – year 1790 time lines.

A little interesting fact about Dr. Roland W. Force, born in Omaha, Nebraska he graduated from Stanford University, from which he received master's degrees in education and anthropology along with his 1958. He served in the Army 89th Infantry, European Theater, during World War II. As a graduate student he studied in Palau and lived in Ngarchelong for 16 months from 1954 to 1956 and returned for a shorter visit in 1962. After many accolades he retired in 1990 and the Forces’ returned to Honolulu. He gifted many Belau artifacts to the Belau National Museum. In 1994 he gifted this Lime Dispenser to BNM, In the memory of Ngiraiyobei Rehuher Tarimel of Ngerchelong. Dr. Force was given the title of Ongetiu (9th Chief) of Ngarchelong.

July 29, 2020

Palau’s 3000 cal. B.P. Year Old Clay Vessel

In western Micronesia archaeological sites containing material-culture remains spanning millennia are rare. On Ulong Island in Palau, which is radiocarbon dated to 3000 cal. B.P. The pottery sequence was divided into three assemblages, each distinguished by distinct vessel forms and by the type and proportion of non-plastic temper inclusions. An abrupt transformation of the ceramic assemblage is tentatively dated to around 2400 cal. B.P., coincident with substantial landscape alteration on the main island where pottery was manufactured, indicating that anthropogenic activity may have constrained the raw materials available to prehistoric potters.

There is a discontinuity in the sequence from 2000-1000 B.P. that might represent an hiatus in site use. Critical consideration of paleoenvironmental data pointing to human arrival at 4500-4300 cal. B.P. suggests, instead, that climatic events may be responsible for the observed palaeoecological changes. If so, then sites dating to 3300-3000 cal. B.P., such as Ulong Island, could well be among the oldest in western Micronesia. Research was conducted in 2002 on Ulong Island by Dr. Geoffrey Clark, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University – ANU, he collected shards of pottery and other artifacts. Returning to Australia and conducting tests the pottery shards were reconstructed and returned to Palau on Jun 20 2009 and now a part of the Museum’s collection.

BNM has pottery classes available upon request with knowledgeable staff of the significance of pottery and its importance to the Palauan culture and history.

July 13, 2020

Belau National Museum 2020 Energy Efficiency Program

In 2020, the Belau National Museum installed a 23.85 kWP Roof Top Solar System. This system has a daily production of 106.462 kwh with a daily maximum of 18.256 kW that generates a daily revenue of $49.77 USD and a daily CO2 reduction of 74.523 kg. The Belau National Museum is reducing its greenhouse gas emissions every day. In 2018, the Belau National Museum requested the Renewable Energy Division of the Palau Public Utilities to conduct an Energy Assessment. The BNM Staff is now following the Energy Saving Tips for Lighting, Air Conditioning, and Computers and Electrical Devices. These tips will help reduce your carbon footprint at home and in the office:

  • Replace all incandescent bulbs with CFL or LED bulbs
  • Use Individual Desk Lamps
  • Turn off lights when not in use
Air Conditioning
  • Set Air Conditioners at 23-25 degrees Celsius
  • Clean AC filters regularly
  • Turn off AC when not in use
Computers and Electrical Equipment
  • Turn off computers and equipment when not in use
  • Use surge protectors to protect equipment during power outage
  • Clean around computers and CPU to ensure sufficient airflow to cool equipment
  • Use power saving options
  • Do no overstock refrigerator or freezer
  • Replace old equipment (more than 10 years old)
  • Unplug and store equipment not in use
Last month, an Energy Workshop was held for the staff of the Belau National Museum to gain a better understanding of how their rooftop solar system works, how to monitor and maintain it, and helpful energy saving tips. The workshop was conducted by Island Engineering and Design, a local company who installed the museum’s system.
The BNM acknowledges the support of the Small Grants Program Global Environment Facility, the Palau Energy Administration, the Palau Public Utilities Office, the Office of Climate Change, and Island Engineering and Design.

July 13, 2020

MOA Signed Between BNM and PCS

MOA Signed Between Belau National Museum and Palau Conservation Society The Belau National Museum is the recipient of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Program funding for a 2-year project entitled Education Campaign for Migratory Birds in Palau. This project aims to increase awareness of migratory birds and to garner support for protection of the Northern Peleliu Lkes. The Belau National Museum (BNM) has an ongoing partnership with Palau Conservation Society (PCS) to conduct state-wide bird surveys as part of the BNM National Program for Monitoring Forest and Coastal Birds in Palau. Over the past 8 years, BNM has produced the State of the Birds Report as part of its national obligation for this Program in partnership with the Palau Conservation Society. BNM and PCS work together on the Palau Bird Records Committee and on biodiversity, forest, and wetland awareness campaigns. During March 2, 2020, the BNM and PCS agreed to the following roles and responsibilities in regards to this educational campaign for migratory birds.

PCS agrees to develop materials needed for the educational campaign as follows
  • Analysis of outreach materials
  • Update outreach materials as needed
  • Develop new outreach materials
BNM agreed to:
  • Provide funding support of the amount of $10,000 to support this project
  • Review and provide input into development of the educational materials
  • Provide other technical assistance and information requested by PCS and deemed appropriate by PCS representative

July 1, 2020

MOA Signed Between BNM and Kaudiais

MOA Signed Between BNM and Kaudiais The Belau National Museum is the recipient of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Program entitled Education Campaign for Migratory Birds in Palau. This 2-year project aims to increase awareness of migratory birds and to garner support for protection of the Northern Peleliu Lkes. The Belau National Museum (BNM) established a partnership with Kaudiais to assist with the awareness campaign. A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed by Vernie Ngiraked, President of Kaudiais and Director Olympia E Morei-Remengesau, Director of the Belau National Museum on June 24, 2020 at the Belau National Museum. Kaudiais agreed to assist with the educational campaign as follows:

  • Inform the Peleliu communities of meetings and field trips
  • Participate in community meetings and field trips
  • Participate in community meetings and field trips
  • Assist with overall logistics for the project
BNM agreed to:
  • Assist with overall logistics for the project
  • Provide other technical assistance and information requested by Kaudiais and deemed appropriate by Kaudiais representative

June 30, 2020

Music and Dance Lessons!

June 30, 2020

Private Singing Lessons!

MOA Signed Between BNM and MNRET

MOA Signed Between Belau National Museum and Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment, and Tourism The Republic of Palau is the recipient of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Ridge-to-Reef (R2R) System of Transparent Allocation of Resources (STAR) project or GEF R2R STAR Project, whose purpose is to: (a) improve the Protected Areas Network; (b) effectively implement Palau's Sustainable Land Management policy; and (c) ensure integrated coordination, mainstreaming & project management. The project is headed by the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism (MNRET) and is being implemented by MNRET Bureaus, Programs, and other local partners. The Belau National Museum (BNM) is currently working with local and regional partners to conduct a nation-wide bird survey. This work is in line with the deliverables of the GEF R2R STAR Project under the Protected Areas Network (PAN) Program.

During May 14, 2020, Olympia E. Morei-Remengesau, Director of the Belau National Museum signed a Memorandum of Agreement with F. Umiich Sengebau, Minister of the the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment &Tourism. The purpose of this MOA is to clearly identify the roles and responsibilities of each party in regards to integrating Palau-specific biodiversity and island ecosystem topics into a national bird survey.

BNM agreed to:
  • Develop a plan of key activities and milestones to achieving the outcomes and outputs of this MOA
  • Provide regular update of progress through briefing meetings with PAN Office representative.
  • Provide copies of materials and other products developed for this project.
  • Track the number of encounters with project materials and/or participation in project activities.
MNRET agreed to:
  • Provide funding support of the amount of $10,000 to support this project.
  • Review and provide input into development of the national bird survey when requested by BNM.
  • Provide other technical assistance and information requested by BNM and deemed appropriate by MNRET representative.

Exhibition of Japan-Palau 25th Anniversay Diplomatic Relations

Exhibition of Japan-Palau 25th Anniversay Diplomatic Relations Simeon Adelbai, BNM Media Manager, was invited by Palau Ambassador in Japan to help setup exhibition at Satakaya Art Museum to commemorate the 25 Anniversary of Palau-Japan Diplomatic ties.

Belau National Museum Signing Ceremony and the opening exhibition of Tawain Austronesian Exhibit.

Belau National Museum Signing Ceremony and the opening exhibition of Tawain Austronesian Exhibit. A signing ceremony was held for a MOU between Belau National Museum and Taiwan CIP(Council of Indigenous People). The Parties are committed to promoting comprehensive international cultural exchanges and cooperation on a reciprocal basis. Such reciprocal exchanges and cooperation shall include but not be limited to:
  • The exchange of visits by academic and research personnel
  • The exchange of visits by indigenous academic personnel
  • The exchange of visits by indigenous cultural personnel
  • The exchange of visits by indigenous tourism personnel
  • The exchange of visits by artists and art groups
  • The exchange of publications
  • The exchange of exhibitions
  • The exchange of cooperation on arts, artifacts and other related themes
  • The exchange of visits by indigenous cultural performers

Faustina Rehuher-Marugg Appointed as Minister of Community and Cultural Affairs by ROP President

Minister Faustina Rehuher-Marugg takes an oath in front of Palauan officials and traditional leaders. Faustina Rehuher-Marugg, BNM director 1979-2009, is the new Minister of Community and Cultural Affaris. President Johnson Toribiong nominated Mrs. Rehuher-Marugg and in a unanimous vote by House of Senate received a 13 in favor and 0 in opposition. Sitting before the House of Senate, Mrs. Rehuher-Marugg delivered an impressive performance of her knowledge about the Palauan culture, history, culture management, and its significance for today and future survival of Palauan identity. Moreover she demonstrated her extensive network and role in Pacific Island museums, academia, and other regional and international organizations such as ICOMOS Pasifica and UNESCO Pacific. BNM board of trustee and staff thanks her and wish her good luck at her new post as Minister of Community and Cultural Affairs.

New BNM Director: Olympia Esel Morei

Director Olympia Esel MoreiThe recent appointment of Faustina Rehuher-Marugg as Minister of Community and Cultural Affairs left a vacancy for BNM directorship. After much deliberation and screening the Board of Trustees selected Olympia E. Morei, formerly BNM Administrative Officer, as BNM new director. Direcotr Morei assumed the position on June 1, 2009. She has 25 years experience at Belau National Museum. Direcotr Morei has broad experiences in museum and art management, cultural festivals, Palauan culture, public relations, and media.

Research Librarian attends Leadership for Pacific Libraries in Pohnpei

PREL Leadership for Pacific Libraries participants at COM-Pohnpei Sandy Fernandez, BNM Research Librarian, spent three weeks April 2009 in Pohnpei for PREL (Pacific Resource for Education and Learning) training. The training was focused on GREENSTONE, database software developed in New Zealand.

BNM Co-Organized First Pacific Archaeology Conference in Palau and Micronesia Archaeology Exhibit

Photo (top, sitting left to right): Dr. Rufino Mauricio, ICOMOS Pacifica; James Dion, National Geographic Society; Madrangebuked Thomas Remengesau, Ngaraard High Chief; Ngirakebou Roman Bedor, Ngchesar High Chief; Honorable President Johnson Toribiong; Dr. Patrick Nunn, University of South Pacific-Fiji; Clair Smith, President-World Archaeological Congress; Honorable Senator Kathy Kesolei; Diraii Yosko Ngiratumerang, Aimeliik Historian; and Minister of Community and Cultural Affairs Faustina K. Rehuher-Marugg. Conference presenters and participants are at the back. The conference - Pacific Island Archaeology in the 21st Century: Relevance and Engagement - examines how natural and cultural heritage studies and archaeology are relevant to the sociopolitical, economic, and environmental challenges facing contemporary and future societies in Pacific islands. From July 1-3, 2009 participant from all over the Pacific came to share their work and perspectives on archaeology and its relation to island heritage. President Toribiong opened the conference by echoing every child's curiosity of where he/she comes from, emphasizing the need of search for ones identity and how this conference was timely in Palau and in the Pacific. Over the three day conference presenters presented on various topics related to archaeology, heritage, tourism, culture management, and their relevance and engagement to contemporary Pacific. In honor of the Pacific Island Archaeology conference the Belau National Museum launched a new exhibit titled Micronesia Archaeology. The exhibit is an educational exhibit aiming to introduce island in Micronesia and their heritage to a local residents and visitors. The exhibit opening was in simultaneous with the conference reception which was held at the museum ground on July 01, 2009. Photo (top, left to right): Kiblas Soaladaob (Graduate Student, University of Canterbury-NZ); Ralph Regenvanu (Vanuatu Cultural Center); Olympia Morei (Belau National Museum Director); Sagale Buadromo (Fiji Museum Director); Anthony Ramirez (Guam Museum Administrator) at Pacific Archaeology Conference Banquet. Photo (top, sitting left to right): BNM Board of Trustees members Eriko Singeo and Lydia Charles at the opening of Micronesia Archaeology Exhibition.

U.S. National Congressman Spouse visit Belau National Museum

Photo (top): Mrs. Billye Brown (third from left); First Lady Valeria Toribiong (middle); Minister Faustina Rehuher-Marugg (fourth from right); Mrs. Antonina Hinanui Hunkin (second from left); and BNM Director Olympia E. Morei (right). On August 08, 2009, First Lady Valeria Toribiong led two U.S. congress spouses on a visit to Belau National Museum. Mrs. Billye Brown, spouse of Representative Henry Brown Republican Congressman from South Carolina and Mrs. Antonina Hinanui Hunkin, spouse of Democratic Delegate from American Samoa, got a glimpse of Palau history and rich natural and cultural heritage through the guidance of Minister of Community and Cultural Affairs Faustina Rehuher-Marugg (former BNM Director). Before leaving the museum ground, the two guest of honor witnessed a Palau men's group perform a traditional men's dance in front of BNM Bai ra Ngesechel a Cherechar, meeting house. Photo (top): Ngardmau traditional men's dance group performing at Bai ra Ngesechel a Cherechar.

President Johnson Toribiong Signs Palau Language Commission into Law

In a historic moment in Palau history, President Johnson Toribiong signed the Palau Language Commission (RPPL No. 8-7) into law on August 18, 2009 at the Capitol Building in Ngerulmud, Melekeok. The bill was authored by Honorable Senator Kathy Kesolei, Senator Regina Mesebeluu, Senator Regis Akitaya, and Senator Joel Toribioing. The bill is to create a commission to establish Palauan Orthography or the way the Palauan language is written and spelled. Furthermore the commission is tasked to create a uniform spelling of Palauan words and to set rules for Palauan grammar and usage. In a letter to Senate President Senator Mlib Tmetuchl, President Toribiong praises the bill and says "…language is like a roadmap of our culture. It tells you where our people came from and where we are going. Without language there would be no laws. Without language we would not know our past and we would have no future. We would be like rudderless canoe afloat on the ocean allowing the currents and winds to take us wherever they deigned. With language we know ourselves and we have control of our destiny (Toribiong 8/18/09 Serial No. 09-468)."