Dutch Museums to Return Over 100,000 Stolen Items by Colonists to Countries of Origin

As much as 100,000 objects mainly from colonies of Indonesia and Suriname will likely be sent back. Directors of the Rijksmuseum and Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam along with the Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden and the Afrika Museum in Berg en Dal made a statement of such recommendation.

October 10, 2020

World

2 min

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Many Dutch museums authorities have vowed to return statues and other artefacts stolen by their colonists to the countries of origin. As much as 100,000 objects mainly from colonies of Indonesia and Suriname will likely be sent back. Directors of the Rijksmuseum and Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam along with the Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden and the Afrika Museum in Berg en Dal made a statement of such recommendation. Together these museums have more than 270,000 items in collection. 

A colonial repatriation committee advised the Dutch museums to return artifacts stolen by Dutch colonialists to countries such as Sri Lanka and Indonesia. “If it doesn’t belong to you then you must return it,” the author of the report, Lilian Gonçalves-Ho Kang You, said. Back in 2019, some colonial era stolen items were returned to Indonesia. The museums here have items that date back to the 13th century. Similarly, the  has 4,000 objects with a colonial connection. 

The committee also states that not just the stolen/looted artefacts but also the return of objects which are “cultural, historical, or religious importance to the source country.” It also recommends that museums should consider request for the return of such objects from the source countries colonised by other Europeans, not only Netherlands. The Dutch National Museum of World Cultures has almost 40% of the collection from colonial context. There is proposed a new for an independent committee to make repatriation requests to the Dutch Culture Minister. It will finally be the government’s call to act up on these recommendations.

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