Our Colonial Inheritance
The 23d of May marked the opening of Our Colonial Inheritance at the Tropenmuseum Amsterdam, a new permanent exhibition designed by Kossmanndejong and AFARAI. The two Amsterdams-based design agencies collaborated together with the Tropenmuseum and countless partners, artists, people with lived experiences and experts. The colonial legacy has an impact on just about everything in our daily life, from the macroeconomic system to our language use, religious beliefs and food consumption. Our Colonial Inheritance at the Tropenmuseum aims to reveal and question this impact. This exhibition deliberately holds space for those perspectives.
Spaces of Togetherness
The intention behind Our Colonial Inheritance is to highlight how creativity and resistance brought colonised people together. We want to bring attention to how people resisted and subverted the colonial system through places, customs and rituals and, thus, maintained control over their own lives. These Spaces of Togetherness foreground perspectives from outside, between or against the colonial system and form the basis of our design concept. We tell the story of Our Colonial Inheritance in nine scenes, each with its own theme and Space of Togetherness. On the floor plan, you see the circles and squares where we made space for these new stories in the Tropenmuseum. Their presence alongside the museum’s colonial stories and collection creates space for dialogue. This dialog also invites the visitor to question: what are the stories here that still need to be told?
The former Colonial Museum
Originally built as the Colonial Institute, the museum itself is part of this colonial legacy. Though it has now become a museum of world cultures, much of its collection comes from the former Dutch colonies – given, stolen and collected from a colonial perspective. As in the normative colonial narrative written by colonisers, perspectives outside this norm are still rarely considered. That’s why this exhibition deliberately holds space for those perspectives.
Permanent exhibition ‘Our Colonial Inheritance’
Photography: Rick Mandoeng