Organ in the Lutherse Kerk in Paramaribo dating from 1834 (Wikimedia)

Historic Organ Could Play Again in Paramaribo

After extensive research, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands has concluded that the historic organ in Paramaribo’s cathedral can be restored.

Paramaribo has a unique collection of 'sounding heritage', consisting of bells, tower clocks, historical pipe organs and carillons. This sounding heritage adds an important and vital dimension to the outstanding universal value of the historic city, which is listed as UNESCO World Heritage.

In 2014, Stichting Gebouwd Erfgoed Suriname (the organisation for care of monuments in Suriname) and the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands worked closely together to produce an inventory of Paramaribo’s sounding heritage.

One of these objects is the Maarschalkerweerd organ in the Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Peter and Paul. Removed in 2007 from the then-dilapidated wooden cathedral, the organ was stored elsewhere in separate parts. Fearing high financial costs, little hope remained for restoring and putting the instrument back in place. Even so, in 2015, the diocese of Suriname requested the advice of the Cultural Heritage Agency’s sounding expert, Rudi van Straten. The outcome of the subsequent extensive research was beyond expectation.

After inspecting the separate parts of this organ, it was concluded that instead of outsourcing all restoration work, a joint effort of local experts and a Dutch organ builder would be best. Not only will this build upon local expertise, it will also enhance the exchange of knowledge and local support. Although it will take some time, a Maarschalkerweerd organ recital in Paramaribo’s cathedral is no longer unimaginable.