Dutch Museums Promise to Return 100,000 Items Looted From Former Colonies

Hopefully this will include manuscripts as well. From the article:

A colonial repatriation committee in the Netherlands recently released a report that advised complete “recognition and rectification of injustices” borne out of colonialism and asked Dutch museums to return artifacts stolen by Dutch colonialists to countries such as Sri Lanka and Indonesia. The Netherlands’ most famous museums — including Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum and Tropenmuseum — backed the report, vowing to return more than 100,000 exhibits taken by force during colonial times.

“If it doesn’t belong to you then you must return it,” the author of the report, Lilian Gonçalves-Ho Kang You, said. The move follows at least two years of fervent advocacy by Dutch museums to make the repatriation of stolen items a matter of policy in the Netherlands, with the director of the Rijksmuseum, Taco Dibbits, returning many items to Indonesia already in 2019. “It’s a disgrace that the Netherlands is only now turning its attention to the return of the colonial heritage,” he had said at the time. “We should have done it earlier, and there is no excuse.”

This quote from the article, from those opposing repatriation, is also interesting…

“Over time, objects so acquired – whether by purchase, gift or portage – have become part of the museums that have cared for them, and by extension part of the heritage of the nations which house them,” reads a 2002 declaration signed by prominent museums of the world, including the Louvre in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Basically saying the quite part out loud: Theft is a part of our heritage and we must maintain it.

While we’re here, I’d like to give a plug for the Colombo National Museum if you are ever in Sri Lanka. The collection of Buddhist statues and related items is wonderful. My only complaint would be that the exhibit lighting is a bit dim, so I suggest a pocket flashlight if you really want to see details. On my first several visits I only had time to see the Buddhist items. After seeing the rest of the museum I can say that it really is a world class collection of Sri Lankan cultural material. Without a doubt one of the best places to visit in Colombo, and certainly the best Buddhist experience, albeit under glass cases.


And One of the few places that isn’t at all crowded! The ambience is very meditative :pray:t3: a


Indeed. It definitely has the museum vibe. It has a lot of bad reviews on TripAdvisor, but I think most predate a major renovation. The only time the silence is broken is when a school group comes through. But, for good or for bad, they tend to rush through. When I ask local folks if they have ever been to the museum, they universally say yes. But when I start to talk about it, they all tell me they went as kids in a school group and don’t remember a single thing. :frowning:


The natural history section was all I wanted to see at the time :grinning: Now it’s a whole other story :smiley:

This stunning statue thankfully didn’t get looted. I took a picture when I was there last time. It’s one of the treasures you can see if you visited the Colombo National Museum