Around the World in 80 Clicks

inspiring you to travel

Palau: Belau National Museum

Mission accomplished image

Belau National Museum | Palau | Oceania

[Visited: January 2016]

Still reeling from the effects of a long journey from Europe, we decide to pay a visit to the National Museum of Belau as an introduction to Palau. A pleasant walk through a quiet neighbourhood takes us to the oldest museum of the Micronesian region (established in 1955), and even before entering, our eyes are drawn to a replica of a bai, a traditional men's meeting house. Before we can even get close, a local tending the garden of the museum approaches us and we have an interesting conversation about Palau with this proud resident. We see a limestone sculpture depicting a dugong just outside the museum. We explore the museum, once the Chinese tour groups are gone, we have the museum virtually to ourselves. Life-size canoes hanging from the ceiling and some large wooden carvings provide a framework for learning more about Palau. The only thing we know about the country comes from our guidebook, and the museum turns out to be a great introduction to the country and the Micronesian region.

Picture of Belau National Museum (Palau): Traditional Palauan in the museum of Belau

On the upper floor, separate sections teach us about the influence under the Spanish, German, Japanese, and American occupation; each one had a different approach to ruling Palau. There are old black and white pictures of Koror, old coins, stamps; there are books with colourful covers depicting typical Palauan scenes, there is background information on the history and culture, also about the carving of stone money in Palau by the Yapese. There are drawings of Palauans by Spanish visitors in the early 19th century, and replicas of villages. Apart from that, there are also artefacts from other parts of the region: love sticks from Chuuk, richly carved wooden cupboards, small canoes, pots, and more. The museum has a perfect size: not overwhelming, but big enough to present a good idea of the country.

Picture of Belau National Museum (Palau): Inside of a bai depicted in a drawing

Then, there is a section about the fauna of the region, with animals like salt water crocodiles and the rare dugong, birds, and fish. We cannot wait to explore the country now, and start by having a closer look at the bai we have seen before. Bais are men's meeting houses, long wooden structures on a platform, with richly decorated front and back sides. Inside the bai, we see a fireplace, which was used to keep mosquitoes away. The beams inside are all painted as well, and the corners have paintings of cocks, while the beam above the entrance has a black fruit bat depicted. Close to the bai, we find several objects from the Second World War period, which saw fierce fighting in Palau between the Japanese and Americans. Guns, aircraft parts, and artillery lie scattered on the floor, while nearby we find a Peace Memorial, erected for those who died during the war in the Pacific - even in this remote, peaceful corner of the world, war once raged, but this fortunately is history now. We are ready to plan our visit to Palau and see its natural and cultural beauty.

Picture of Belau National Museum (Palau): Typical village depicted in the museum
Picture of Belau National Museum (Palau): The interior of the bai with fireplace
Picture of Belau National Museum (Palau): Woman with long hair depicted on the frontside of the bai of the museum
Picture of Belau National Museum (Palau): Reconstructed bai in the backyard of the museum
Picture of Belau National Museum (Palau): Several artefacts from World War II on display outside the museum
Picture of Belau National Museum (Palau): German book on Palau with typical Palauan setting
Picture of Belau National Museum (Palau): Colourful book cover depicting a typical Palauan scene
Picture of Belau National Museum (Palau): Spanish drawings of the Palauans from the early 19th century
Picture of Belau National Museum (Palau): Old wooden sculpture in the museum
Picture of Belau National Museum (Palau): Fine pottery in the museum
Picture of Belau National Museum (Palau): Bai in the backyard of the museum
Picture of Belau National Museum (Palau): Sculpted head of a Micronesian
Picture of Belau National Museum (Palau): Skull of the rare dugong on display in the museum

Around the World in 80 Clicks

Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Belau National Museum (Palau). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Belau National Museum.
Read more about this site.

Follow us