Culture Council: colonial art collections must be returned | Inland


A committee of the Council for Culture writes this in an advice to Minister Van Engelshoven (Culture). In the report, the committee, headed by Lilian Gonçalves, advises museums to ‘point out their responsibility’ and to investigate the provenance of their colonial cultural objects. Even if the provenance of the works of art is uncertain or it is unclear whether it concerns looted art, museums should be prepared to return it, the committee believes.

Legally, theft is time-barred

Legally, the theft of art under colonial rule is time-barred. There are no modern international treaties that have retroactive effect on colonial cultural goods. That is why the committee advises not to look legally at restitution requests, but ethically.

According to Gonçalves, restitution must be done in consultation with the former colonies. “In other words, watch out for a neo-colonial repetition of the past, in which especially one’s own views, feelings, norms and values ​​are the guiding principles for action.”

The Netherlands must take it seriously

Even if countries other than Indonesia, Suriname and the Caribbean islands knock on the door to get back art treasures that are in the hands of the government, the Netherlands must take that seriously.

The advice of the Council for Culture did not come out of the blue. Whether it concerns the 70 carat diamond of Banjarmasin in the Rijksmuseum, the objects increasingly bring ‘inconvenience’ with them, it can be read. “An inconvenience associated with changes in the way in which people in the Netherlands look at the colonial past and that you can also encounter in discussions about, for example, Zwarte Piet, about the statues of colonists in Dutch squares and about the streets, tunnels and schools that go to they are named. ” In the Netherlands, a ‘reorientation’ is underway on the colonial past. “In addition, racism, exploitation, violence and oppression are increasingly coming to the fore as central characteristics of that time.”

In mid-September, the Africa Museum in Berg en Dal was startled by a Facebook video showing a black man picking up a statue from the museum and carrying it outside. It turned out to be the activist Mwazulu Diyabanza Siwa, who was arrested outside with four accomplices.

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