Why this exhibition about Our Colonial Inheritance?

Wereldmuseum Amsterdam is a former colonial organisation set up to show off Dutch colonial objects. The museum played a role in the common perception that people from formerly colonised countries were inferior. This is still visible in the decorations covering the building. Moreover, part of our collection dates back to that time and came about through colonial power imbalances.

In the Netherlands, there is a growing need for information about the colonial past and to improve understanding of its implications for the present. At Wereldmuseum Amsterdam, we are aware of that part of our history, and it is our mission to contribute to a more equal and just world. One way we go about this is by creating the new permanent exhibition, Our Colonial Inheritance.

The exhibition pays explicit attention to the continued effects of the Dutch colonial past. And to the resilience, creativity, and opposition of colonised countries and people. Because of its background, Wereldmuseum Amsterdam is the ideal setting to focus on this part of our history. And to contribute to the conversation about how the past still plays a role today. In the process, we hope to inspire people to find ways to contribute to a more just world themselves.

By starting in the present, we stay close to the experiences of our visitors. And it allows us to explain why this topic matters and how it affects our lives. With hundreds of objects, photographs, paintings, and other visual works of art, we illustrate how colonialism still shapes the world around us and our thinking. And we clarify the relationships between colonialism and inequality, exclusion and racism.