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Press release:

Tropenmuseum launches ‘Our Colonial Inheritance’

New permanent exhibition on the Dutch colonial past and its repercussions

On 24 June 2022, the Tropenmuseum will launch its new permanent exhibition, Our Colonial Inheritance. The exhibition illustrates how colonialism helped shape the world we live in and how people dealt with colonialism. Our Colonial Inheritance opens at the end of a lengthy renovation period and covers 1,200 square metres. By showing how Dutch colonial history is still ‘unfinished business’, the Tropenmuseum means to contribute to the public debate and to promote a more just society.

Our Colonial Inheritance comprises some 500 objects and artefacts from the extensive collections of the National Museum of World Cultures - of which Tropenmuseum is a part - supplemented by new, contemporary artwork. The focus is on the Dutch colonial past in Suriname, the Caribbean, and Indonesia and how it still resounds today. In inequality, racism, exclusion, and exploitation, for instance. And in our diverse society, culture, shared cuisine, language, and music.

Hope, resistance, resilience

Ten themes, such as expansion and trade, consumption and production, labour and exploitation, racism and resistance, language and religion, have been chosen to illustrate colonial mechanisms and structures. And to show how people in colonised countries were always rebelling against the Dutch presence. The focus here is on hope, resistance, resilience, and creativity. A team of curators is currently selecting historical artefacts, stories, works of art, films, and photographs. In addition, several artists will be asked to create new work for the exhibition.

Awareness of the unfinished business

With Our Colonial Inheritance, the Tropenmuseum aims to help raise awareness about the social structures and relationships that were introduced alongside colonialism. Some of these carry through to this very day when it comes to representation and everyday language. All this is to help people understand how colonialism has shaped contemporary society. Finally, the exhibition aims to inform visitors and inspire them to contribute to a more just world.

Education and programming

A team of educators and teachers is working on an education package for secondary schools. In addition, the Tropenmuseum is working with its partners on a comprehensive programme with debates and (theatre) performances around this same theme.


Our Colonial Inheritance relies on the input of many parties and stakeholders. In creating this exhibition, the Tropenmuseum collaborates with scholars, educational experts, the public, communities, experts on accessibility for people with disabilities, and many others.

note to the editors, not for publication
For more information or interview requests, please contact our press officer, Coromandel Brombacher, by email or phone: or +31 (0)6 5315 2835.

Please note that the images below are free of rights, provided they are used in the context of the exhibition, and the artists’ names are mentioned.