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Rijksmuseum Slave Trade Exhibit May 17, 2021

Posted By: Gary E. Andrews

Rijksmuseum Slave Trade Exhibit May 17, 2021 - 05/18/21 01:29 PM

Tue, May 18, 2021, 5:58 AM EDT
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS (AP) — The delicacy of one of the first objects in new exhibition at Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum belies its brutality. At the end of a thin iron rod are the artistically interwoven letters GWC — used to brand the initials of a Dutch trading company into the skin of enslaved workers.

The stark contrast between finery and brutality, wealth and inhumanity is a recurring pattern at the museum's unflinching exhibition titled, simply, “Slavery,” that examines the history of Dutch involvement in the international slave trade.

Nearby, a huge wooden set of stocks and heavy iron chains and locks used to constrain enslaved people stands close to a small box, intricately decorated with gold, tortoiseshell and velvet celebrating some of the valuable commodities traded by the Dutch West India Company in the 18th century: Gold, ivory and human beings.

The exhibit, being opened Tuesday by King Willem-Alexander, tells the story of slavery by drilling down into the personal stories of 10 people, ranging from enslaved workers to a wealthy Amsterdam woman.

“We wanted to make the case, that this is a history that speaks to anybody in the Netherlands. It belongs to all of us, so that’s why we chose a personal approach," Valika Smeulders, head of the museum's history department, told The Associated Press.

The exhibition opens — belatedly and mainly online because of the COVID-19 pandemic — at a time when scrutiny of many nations' brutal colonial history has been spurred by the Black Lives Matter movement that swept the world last year after the death of Black man George Floyd.

School children will be able to visit the museum beginning this week, but the exhibition will not open to the general public until the Dutch lockdown eases further, possibly in June.

Amsterdam had a significant role in the global slave trade — the stately mansions lining its canals attest to the fortunes made by Golden Age traders often with the use of slave labor. That history has led to calls for a formal apology from the current municipality.

“Well, apologies are in the air, absolutely. And I think that, with this exhibition, as a museum, what we are adding to that is that we bring this story in the most honest way possible for us at the moment," said Smeulders.

The Dutch show is part of a broader movement to re-examine colonial histories. In neighboring Belgium, the Africa Museum near Brussels re-opened a few years ago after a major renovation and shone a light on the country's dark colonial history in Congo.

Germany is returning hundreds of artifacts known as the Benin Bronzes that were mostly looted from West Africa by a British colonial expedition. (Click the link to read more.)
Posted By: JAPOV

Re: Rijksmuseum Slave Trade Exhibit May 17, 2021 - 05/18/21 10:09 PM


BUT... How much do you wanna' bet BLM/ANTIFA will find a reason to hate it?
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