Colonial Stories

Work in Progress

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About the exhibition

In recent years the colonial past of the Netherlands and the city of Amsterdam has come under increased scrutiny. The Amsterdam Museum also believes this part of Amsterdam’s history deserves careful examination. Such things always begin with research. In this case, investigating the many ways in which the city and our collection are still interconnected with this complex piece of history. The exhibition Colonial Stories reveals the current results of our research.

This research revolves around a central question: What did the colonial past mean back then, and what does it mean now, both for the city and for us, as a city museum? We pose questions such as: How do we research the past? Which stories can be found, and which are lacking? What terminology do we use? What role can contemporary artists play in this research?

Curated by: Inez Blanca van der Scheer, Maria Lamslag and Imara Limon

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Presentation highlights

  • From portraits of slave traders to photographs of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in 2020
  • From objects originally from the Dutch East India Company (VOC) to recent apologies by the city of Amsterdam for its involvement in slavery
  • From the painting The Waterland Sugar Plantation on the Suriname River (ca. 1708), an idyllic image of a Surinamese plantation where slavery is deliberately not depicted, to contemporary Keti Koti celebrations.
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Amsterdam Museum on the Amstel

Amstel 51, Amsterdam

Opening Hours

Open daily from 10.00 until 17.00.

How to get there
The museum is easily accessible by public transport: Tram 4 (stop Rembrandtplein) and 14 (stop Waterlooplein) Metro 51, 53 and 54 (stop Waterlooplein, exit Nieuwe Herengracht).

Nearest parking garages are: Nationale Opera & Ballet, Waterlooplein, The Bank and Markenhoven. For more information, please visit

Guided Tour Colonial Stories

Although the Amsterdam Museum does not have a typical colonial collection, the museum wants to deal carefully with the city's colonial past. How we do that will be discussed during this guided tour.

The tour focuses on the many stories in which the city is intertwined with its colonial history and how this can be observed in the collection and in museum practice. It is discussed which stories are represented and which are not. How artists can play a role in viewing the collection from a different angle and how you can collect current social developments. A reservation is recommended. You can book a guided tour by emailing or calling 020-5231822. A maximum of 12 visitors can take part in each tour.