Old Territories, New Societies

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  • Title: Old Territories, New Societies: An Exploration on Inclusiveness within Dutch National Museum Representation
  • Author(s): Sarike van Slooten
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: The Inclusive Museum
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum
  • Keywords: Postcolonial Museum, Inclusiveness, Identity, Rijksmuseum, Tropenmuseum
  • Volume: 11
  • Issue: 4
  • Year: 2018
  • ISSN: 1835-2014 (Print)
  • ISSN: 1835-2022 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/1835-2014/CGP/v11i04/37-51
  • Citation: van Slooten, Sarike. 2018. "Old Territories, New Societies: An Exploration on Inclusiveness within Dutch National Museum Representation." The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum 11 (4): 37-51. doi:10.18848/1835-2014/CGP/v11i04/37-51.
  • Extent: 15 pages


Much museum and postcolonial literature is dedicated to unravelling the complexities that cultural institutions are faced with when representing double-edged histories such as colonialism and imperialism. Western societies are increasingly challenged to cope with issues such as polarisation, equal rights, and social inclusion. Therefore, museums as cultural and educational institutions are required to move toward the “postcolonial” museum that represents a multifaceted identity and narrates colonial and imperial stories that are reluctant to being compressed into a sole meaning-making and understanding. Though the need to move toward this postcolonial museum is pushed by society and government, museum exhibitions frequently remain depicting a unilateral and dominant perspective; hence they need to focus on creating a stronger inclusive exhibition. This article explores the inclusive nature of the permanent Dutch collection in the Rijksmuseum and the permanent exhibition “Netherlands East Indies” in the Tropenmuseum. Based on in-depth interviews with museum curators and/or exhibition makers, a qualitative survey with visitors, and a personal observation of the material display, it became evident that there is room for improvement toward stronger inclusiveness for both museums at various fronts. As both museums are in the process of (re)designing an exhibition around Dutch colonialism and slavery, this article seeks to advise on how to incorporate a stronger inclusive approach in the development of these exhibitions, as one of the fundaments on which the postcolonial museum is built.