In the years after its foundation in 1814, the United Kingdom of the Netherlands witnessed the emergence of several new sites where natural history—the study of naming, describing and classifying plants, animals and minerals—was carried out. These new sites, such as the Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie (National Museum for Natural History), founded in 1820, the Rijksherbarium (National Herbarium) and the colonial site Nederlands-Indië (Netherlands Indies) had not existed in that form and in that combination before. The Rijksmuseum and the Rijksherbarium, established in Brussels in 1829, were the first national and fully state-funded natural historical institutions in the Dutch kingdom. In the course of the nineteenth century, both institutions rapidly developed into well-known centres for natural historical research in Europe. Significant parts of their collections derived from the Malay Archipelago, a region the Dutch kingdom regained from the British for strategic reasons in 1814. In the first half of the nineteenth century, the Malay Archipelago, which had remained a terra incognita to European naturalists and colonial administrators, witnessed an unprecedented run on its natural wealth—initiated and propelled by both the emerging Dutch colonial state and the natural historical institutions in the Netherlands.
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