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WELCOME TO THE BACKSTAGE
Play

Projection test for the Names memorial, the room is still empty now. Our Colonial Inheritance

24.05.2022 at 15:17 by Wendy Snoek

Growing steel structures. Growth, what is that?

05.04.2022 at 14:00 by Lucandrea Baraldi

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The ideal spot for the Herron. The Voice of Urban Nature

21.03.2022 at 10:33 by Herman Kossmann

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Artist Celia Smith installing here birds warm sculpture. Groote Museum

23.02.2022 at 17:02 by Michel de Vaan

Slowly towards the opening on the 8th of February! Our Land

01.02.2022 at 17:34 by Remco Swart

Together with photographer Sander van den Bosch, we are measuring and photographing all floors of the palace. Visitors will soon be walking on 'invisible' carpets, in order to experience the original atmosphere of the rooms as fully as possible. Paleis Het Loo

26.01.2022 at 12:54 by Robin Schijfs

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Carefully lifting a python snake skeleton. Groote Museum

24.01.2022 at 14:13 by Michel de Vaan

After all those days at home behind a screen, it is very nice to finally do some hands-on experimenting with projections and different layers of transparent fabrics... Nature

07.12.2021 at 17:33 by Pauline Fer

Work in progress for Museum Sophiahof. In progress…

02.12.2021 at 17:28 by Remco Swart

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Work in progress for a children's tour Work in Progress

25.11.2021 at 09:35 by Annika Jacobs

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Barefoot in an exhibition? Together with the Stapferhaus, we are looking at what this means for the perception of the visitors... Nature

24.11.2021 at 18:23 by Robin Schijfs

With a few kickoff days (and nights) in the mountains of Switzerland, we have firmly started the draft design for the new Nature exhibition at the Stapferhaus! Nature

30.09.2021 at 11:09 by Robin Schijfs

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Cleaning out tree routs before they will be lifted to the ceiling Groote Museum

25.09.2021 at 12:29 by Michel de Vaan

Milling earth elevation minus water from a special foam. Here we show how little drinking water there actually is on earth. Groote Museum

30.06.2021 at 12:04 by Michel de Vaan

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Super exiting moment discovering the panels of the « 4 visions on the Anthropocene » box we made for the Vienna Biennal 2021! Work in Progress

12.05.2021 at 12:00 by Lea Chenot

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A big empty space, right before installing all exhibits at WeTheCurious! Project What If

01.02.2021 at 12:19 by Ina Meininghaus

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Safety vs. functionality: looking for the best headphones to use in a factory Expedition HVC

07.01.2021 at 17:39 by Roel Bolhuis

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The new temporary exhibition in House of European History is 'under construction' Fake (f)or Real

07.01.2021 at 17:32 by Tsur Reshef

On view

spaces of
togetherness

Our Colonial Inheritance

Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam (NL)

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. 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.

Location
Amsterdam (NL)
Client
National Museum of World Cultures
Year
2022
Surface
1200 m2
Status
Permanent
Role
Concept, spatial design, graphic design
Team
Wendy Snoek (lead), Femke Bijlsma, Sietske Sips, Nils Mork, Nisala Saheed, Serena Bigatti, Remco Swart
In collaboration with
AFARAI
Light design
Heinz Loopstra Light Design
Construction
Brandwacht en Meijer, MAV techniek
Commissioned art works
Avantia Damberg, Gladys Paulus, Farida Sedoc
Introduction film
Bibi Fadlalla
Digital names memorial
Studio Bertels
Privilege pyramid
Mounir Samuel
Music installation winti, muzik di zumbi & tambú
Vernon Chatlein
Audio installation language
Prof. Soortkill, De Stroom
Interactives
YIPP
Audio tour
Dija Kabba, Jesper Buursink, Mitchell van Ommeren, Isabelle Britto
Other audiovisual productions
Gado Gado Filmproducties, Shosho, DEGASTEN, Stratenmakers audiocollectief
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?

Feeling a story

We also want to denounce colonial power structures with form. From the first glance, we use poetic metaphors to make this tangible. In the first space, circles of blue voile fan out like drops from a central point. Objects in showcases shaped liked boats gravitate to this central point, visualizing the colonial powers’ attraction to the indigenous cultures’ “treasures”. Here, we centre the indigenous culture rather than the colonial position. Further on, we created a modular space made of green supermarket crates. This installation communicates the colonial worldview of the earth as a supermarket, in which everything is readily available and for sale.

Collaboration and dialogue

Like our client, we are also part of a system that – unintentionally – maintains power structures. Our Colonial Inheritance’s story requires a critical attitude, and we wanted to incorporate that critical attitude into our working method. That is why we organised a polyphonic process. We developed the exhibition’s design and concept together with AFARAI. Our intensive collaboration, which also involved the museum, experts and countless partners, ensured that all the ideas and choices were constantly questioned, examined and turned upside down.

Grey areas

The boundaries between a Space of Togetherness and the colonial system are often porous. It’s not a binary system, and we show that. For example, the church was initially part of the colonial system. But with time, it gradually mixed with indigenous spirituality. Sometimes, the church even became a hotbed of resistance against the colonial system.  In the final room, we invite visitors to shape the colonial legacy together. What do you want to take with you? What will you leave behind? What will you do yourself? You can vote with your feet by standing by the approach that fits you best. If most other visitors vote the same way, you together choose which film will be played in the arena. It is a metaphor for how we make change happen, how we deal with this inheritance: together.

Navigating complexity

We wanted to give the colonial building a prominent role in Our Colonial Inheritance’s scenography. To organize the complex content in a clear, substantive and spatial structure, we used the building’s architectural layout as a guide. The museum consists of open gallery spaces surrounding an open, monumental hall. Its neoclassical arches provide rhythm and structure. Spatially, this asks for a linear narrative, but we still allow for cross-links by staging sightlines that enable visual connections across all nine scenes. For instance, we placed the Digital Names Monument for enslaved people from across the former Dutch colonies in a central location so that it is visible from all other museum galleries. We also use colour as an important structuring tool, giving each theme its own colour. Because Our Colonial Inheritance is a continuous experience with hardly any partitions, the colours help you navigate.