Rijksmuseum Slavery Exhibition Confronts Cruelty of Dutch Trade

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tags: museums, slavery, Dutch history

The aim of a first exhibition on the Dutch slave trade to be shown at the Rijksmuseum, launched on Tuesday by King Willem-Alexander, is not to be “woke” but to be a “blockbuster” telling a truer story of the Golden Age, the director general of the national institution has said.

Taco Dibbits said his museum had no intention of taking sides in a political and cultural debate but that the royal visit, broadcast live on national television, highlighted that the wealth bestowed and cruelty endured is not just relevant to the descendants of those enslaved.

“I think, I mean obviously you would have to ask [Willem-Alexander] yourself, but I think with that he emphasises that this is part of our history that concerns all people in the Netherlands and not only the descendant of a slave”, said Dibbits. “I mean, it’s about me, it’s about you, it’s about the king himself … it’s about everybody who lives in the country.”

The Slavery exhibition, showcasing 140 objects, ranging from two Rembrandt portraits of married and lavishly wealthy owners of enslaved people to a display of ankle chains, examines 10 lives caught up in the Dutch slave trade between the early 17th century and 1863, when the practice was finally made illegal in Suriname and the Antilles.

An audio guide for the exhibition includes the voice and thoughts of a Ma Chichi, a woman born into slavery in 1853, who in turn tells how her grandmother, enslaved in 18th-century Curaçao, urged her to always remember that she was equal to anyone. “She never did what the lords wanted,” Chichi says in the recording dating from 1958, when she was 105 years old.


Read entire article at The Guardian

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