(Ongoing) UNESCO' Baseline Survey for the Development of a World Heritage Interpretation Strategy of Ombilin Coal Mining Heritage of Sawahlunto

The Ombilin Coal Mining Heritage of Sawahlunto (OCMHS) was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage property in 2019. Following the inscription, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee made a number of recommendations on how the management and interpretation of the property could be enhanced (WHC.43 COM 8B.17). One of the key recommendations related to interpretation, with site managers requested to develop: “…an overall interpretive strategy and plan to clearly define the overarching interpretive themes and how all the
components contribute and ensuring that the rich social histories of local people and workers from Europe, and other parts of Indonesia and Asia are recognised.”

In this overall context, the main objective of this study was to begin to action this recommendation by collecting baseline data and analyse the current interpretation strategy and policies relating to the Ombilin Coal Mining Heritage of Sawahlunto World Heritage site. It is important to note that this baseline study has been done in close collaboration with the Office of Culture Sawahlunto, City of Sawahlunto, the responsible agency for the management of attributes in the Sawahlunto Mining Site and Company Town. It is expected that this study will be an important step to support the site managers in developing an overall interpretation strategy which will be developed in a future phase of the project.

As per the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the project, the study focuses on the Sawahlunto Mining Site and Company Town (Area A) in Sawahlunto Municipality that consists of Soengai Doerian Mining Site, Mining School, Coal Processing Plan Compound, Ombilin Railway Transportation, Company Town, and Salak Power Plant and Rantih Water Pumping Station. However, an additional preliminary survey was completed at Area B (Railway system) and C (Coal Storage Facilities at Emmahaven Port) to consider linkages for interpretation between all the areas and the City of Padang City (including the Old City, museums etc.).

This study was completed from April – August 2022 by the Southeast Asia Museum Services (SEAMS) commissioned by the UNESCO Office in Jakarta. As part of the study, two (2) field visits were completed, which included focus group discussions with all stakeholders and the local community. A final ‘validation workshop’ was also held with key stakeholders in August 2022 to gain input on the draft baseline survey and recommendations.

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